CHARLOTTE, N.C. – After holding court with Florida and Iowa’s delegation here — fanning the flames of speculation that he is eyeing a presidential bid in 2016 — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Va., spoke with his home state’s contingent this morning.
Warner followed Nancy-Ann Min DeParle, deputy chief of staff for policy for President Barack Obama, with whom he attended Harvard Law School.
“Nancy Ann and I not only went to law school together, but I dater her roommate,” he said. “She could put and end to my political career at any moment.”
Warner praised the Tuesday night speeches from First Lady Michelle Obama and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and chiseled away at the GOP attack on Obama for his “you didn’t build that” remark in Roanoke.
Warner told his own story of failing multiple times in business before becoming a multimillionaire after helping found Nextel.
“At 26, I was flat broke, living out of my car sleeping on my law school friend’s couches,” he said.
After deciding to look into cell phone technology, Warner said he remembered his successful law school friends saying, “Warner, you are so crazy. Mark, go get a real job. Who’s going to want a car phone?”
He quipped: “Most of them are still practicing law.”
Warner said he was lucky to get three chances, noting that he was “a white guy with the right education,” saying that stories like Barack Obama’s and Julian Castro’s showed that the nation had made progress.
“What we believe in as Democrats is what the other side just sometimes doesn’t get,” he said. “We don’t think government or anyone can guarantee anyone’s success, but we sure as heck believe everybody ought to get a fair shot.”
Warner said Republicans were presenting a “do it all on your own” vision of America.
“I didn’t do it all on my own,” he said, crediting publics schools, teachers and student loans for his eventual success.
Warner did stress the need for working across the aisle, referring to how own “reflexive bipartisanship,” but said that it was difficult in the current political event, criticizing the rigidity of the GOP and criticizing the tea party.
Accusing Republicans of a “complete disregard for facts,” Warner said Republicans had laid out “an agenda of the past” at their nominating convention last week.
“I will match my business credentials, and my job-creation credentials, and my ability to read a balance sheet against anyone on the Republican side,” he said, blasting Romney and Ryan’s economic plan for steep cuts to education, infrastructure and research and development.
“Tell me how America is going to win the battle for talent and jobs against any nation in the world if we spend less than 5 percent of our resources on our young people, our infrastructure and our research and development,” he said.
After his speech, Warner sprinted from one conference room at the Sheraton Charlotte Airport Hotel to another, where he addressed the Arkansas delegation.
Asked afterwards if he had ruled out a run for governor next year or if he was considering a 2016 presidential bid, Warner dismissed the questions, saying he was there to talk about elections for Obama and U.S. Senate candidate Timothy M. Kaine.