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Warner Looks To The Future

Virginia Gov. Mark Warner is the new "it boy" of the 2008 Democratic presidential sweepstakes, and he's not wasting any time making the primary-state rounds

Late last week Warner made his inaugural visit to New Hampshire to begin courting activists who can make or break an aspiring national politician. Warner made stops in Nashua and Manchester during his brief visit, generally winning positive (if non-committal) reviews from the local media.

Warner got brownie points for his pledge to support New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary, which of late has been under siege from Democrats pushing for more ethnic and geographic diversity in the early voting process.

"You have always had and always should have the first primary in the nation," the Manchester Union-Leader quoted Warner as saying. "I can see it here today, a special sense of stewardship and responsibility."

Although Warner continues to assert that he is focused on finishing his gubernatorial term, it is apparent he is beginning to ramp up his presidential planning. (Read  the Post's own Mark Leibovich's first crack at "Mark Warner: Presidential Candidate").

In conjunction with the New Hampshire trip, Warner unveiled his presidential campaign Web site-in-waiting. And his schedule for the next month is packed with events with 2008 implications.

Next Monday, Warner will be in New York City to give a speech at the Asia Foundation (read: bolstering foreign policy credentials). Then on Dec. 6, he will hold a kickoff fundraiser for his Forward Together PAC in Northern Virginia, the start of the arduous task of raising the millions necessary to run a national campaign. The following day Warner will be in South Carolina (a key early proving ground to test his Red-State appeal) where he will be the keynote speaker at a state party dinner.  Warner will then hop down to Florida to address the state Democratic Party Conference.

"When you're hot, you're hot," said Steve Elmendorf, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry's deputy campaign manager last year and now a lobbyist with Bryan Cave Strategies.

Warner's busy schedule, he said, is guided by a simple principle: "[Warner] has got a lot of people in activist and donor communities who followed the Virginia results and who are very interested in meeting him and hearing his story. In three months they may be interested in meeting someone else and hearing their story."

Chris Cooper, a partner in the direct mail firm MSHC Partners, cast the time between now and next November as Warner's chance to establish himself as a national figure in the party. "Warner has an opportunity to own the next 11 months in a way the other potential candidates don't because of their obligations to the Senate or their reelection campaigns or both," Cooper said.

By Chris Cillizza  |  November 22, 2005; 5:05 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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