Placing his left hand on a Bible held by his smiling, movie star wife, Republican John W. Warner was sworn in today as Virginia's newest U.S. senator in an elaborate ceremony.
Warner's regular term begins at noon Wednesday, but he took the oath at 11:54 a.m. today in the packed Virginia Senate chamber to succeed retiring Sen. William L. Scott (R). Scott stepped down a day early to give Warner an edge in seniority over some other first-term senators.
Warner took the oath of office at the president's chair in the Virginia Senate from Lawrence W. I'Anson, chief justice of the Virginia Supreme Court.
Warner's wife, actress Elizabeth Taylor, given major credit by many for Warner's successes in his first race fro elective office, kissed her husband and patted him on the back as onlookers applauded.
Taylor, everyone agreed, looked slimmer than during the campaign and predictably stunning in gray fur cap and matching boa, gray dress and high black boots.
Warner wore a blue suit; I'Anson a black robe.
More than 200 persons crowded into the Senate chamber, a 20th century addition to the 18th century Capitol, for the ceremony.
Republican Gov. John N. Dalton, a frequent campaigner for Warner, introduced him and a bipartisan lineup of official guests that included Democratic Lt. Gov. Charles S. Robb and Democratic Rep. Herbert E. Harris from Northern Virginia's 8th Congressional District.
Robb, considered most likely to be the Demoratic nominee fro governor in 1981, sat with his wife, Lynda Johnson Robb, next to Republican Attorney General J. Marshall Coleman and wife, Niki. Coleman is considered the favorite for the next GOP nomination for governor.
Rep. Paul S. Trible from Eastern Virginia's lst Congressional District, a rising GOP star though likely to seek statewide office in the future, also attended.
Scott was not present for the ceremony that originally was planned for the south protico of the Capitol, site of Gubernatorial inaugurations, but was moved inside because of rain.
Warner, who defeated Democrat Andrew P. Miller by 4,721 votes on Nov. 8 in Virginia's closest Senate general election, joked that his supporters were disappointed they could not call him "Landslide Johnny."
He delivered a speech that he said he had written on "lawyer's foolscap" while riding to Richmond from Northern Virginia. Copies of the handwritten text, apparently written on a legal pad, were distributed to the press.
Warner recalled a 1776 message from John Adams to Patrick Henry -- "We all look to Virginia for examples" -- as the theme for a speech in which he said Virginia will sound a voic in the 1980s for a restoration of "indivedual freedom and linited government."
Galling Virginia patriots George Mason, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe the "four horsemen" of individual freedom and linited government, he promised, to applause, "to block a federal government which is straying from a course set by our forefathers."
Warner predicted that the rise of People's Republic of China and the "conglomerate of oil producing nation's" to world power status will poe a challenge replacing that of the super-power polarization between Russia and the United States.
The Republican senator blaned government spending rather than the private economy for inflation and said that national welfare policies should "rely more upon compassion of heart and a sense of local community responsibility than government mandat."
Warner's narrow election victory followed a succession to the GOP omination clouded by tragedy. He was chosen on Aug. 12 to replace Republican nominee Richard D. Obenshain, who was killed in a plane crash on Aug. 3. Obenshain's widow, Helen, attended today's ceremony and was given a standing ovation by those in the chamber.
After the swearing in, the crowd moved to T. Paul's Episcopal Church near the Capitol for a reception.