Drafting Warner 

Former Gov. Mark Warner sort of, unofficially, launches his presidential bid.

Style: Do you have any thoughts about the strategy of the Web site, www.draftmarkwarner.com?

Mark Rozell: It's all for his good because it is almost considered unseemly in American politics to appear to want to be president too badly, so having other people rally for support and try to drag the candidate into the race always looks better.

Larry Sabato: Let's be honest. There's been plenty of encouragement. He's all but running. So is [Sen.] George Allen. These candidates play a cat-and-mouse game mainly with themselves. Everybody knows they're running.

What are Warner's chances as a potential presidential candidate? Could he get the nomination?

Rozell: I fully expect him to run. It's no coincidence that he has made the obligatory treks to New Hampshire and other states, and he has done nothing to discourage the likelihood of a presidential campaign. I think it's all but certain he's going to run. He's a very calculating person, and I think if he saw he had no chance, he would reconsider. I think all the signals are he's out and running.

Sabato: I think it's highly likely.

Is this a good time for him to start a campaign?

Rozell: I think the timing is now. Given the necessity of fund-raising early in the cycle for the first primaries and caucuses, active candidates actually have to be out there right now. A candidate can't wait until 2008 to decide.

Sabato: We don't know what's going to happen tomorrow — much less in 2008. We certainly don't know what's going to happen in 2012, 2016 or 2020. The Democrats will have been out of power for eight years. They are hungry. They want to win, and because of that, they may well be willing to compromise on an electable candidate. And Mark Warner fits the bill. It's just a question of who else runs. ... It probably will be Hillary against one of the anti-Hillarys. Mark Warner has a chance to be one of these anti-Hillarys. He's got a good chance to be a very prominent candidate. That's all you can hope for this early.

Who does he appeal to?

Rozell: I think he appeals primarily to Democrats who feel the party needs a candidate who has governing experience at the executive level and experience in the private sector. Both of which he can claim. Someone who's not wedded to the ideological wing of his party who's capable of building more broad-based support. The difference is most of the primary voters tend to like the ideological candidates. The general election voters tend to like Mark Warner.

Sabato: Democrats who want to win — literally.

Since he has little international relations background, what are his chances assuming the war in Iraq will be an issue in the next election?

Rozell: It's a good point. Americans tend to vote issues close to home and don't put a lot of emphasis on foreign policy, so governors in the modern era have been more successful than senators running for the presidency. [President] Bush made one trip outside the States in his life by the time he ran for president. Ronald Reagan did not have foreign policy experience. But Americans have not seen that as a disqualifying factor. Warner spent a lot of time on foreign trips in the last part of his governorship — probably to showcase that he can do stuff abroad as well as at home.

Sabato: I'd rather be a governor than a senator. Senators have a terrible record in presidential elections. They are associated with Washington, which is disliked. They are typecast as legislators instead of executives. A governor is an executive and he doesn't live in D.C. Those are two big pluses. But one thing a senator does deal in is international relations. S


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