Last Saturday evening, I had to chance to attend the West Virginia Jefferson Jackson dinner in Charleston where Governor Mark Warner was the keynote speaker. I drove just over 5 hours, was there for about 3, and then drove back the 5 hours, got 45 minutes of sleep, and then drove to the airport to catch a 6 AM flight. Hectic? Yes. Tiring? Sure. Worth it? Definitely.
So to those of you who have talked politics with me before have long known I've been plugging a Mark Warner candidacy for president in 2008. I have posted on this blog about this as well.
So basically, a couple months ago I hooked up with the Draft Mark Warner (DMW) organization. This event in West Virginia was the first "on the ground" operation at a political event by DMW, and since it was relatively close, I knew I had to be there.
After a scenic drive through western Maryland and into West Virginia, I finally arrived in Charleston where the dinner was just getting started. Many West Virginia democrats were honored, and speeches delivered, but the headliners were WV's Senator Robert Byrd and Governor Joe Manchin, and of course, Governor Warner.
Governor Warner's speech really made it clear that he is going to be actively involved in the 2008 election. He dealt with national themes, such as employing a 2008 strategy that involves more than 16 states on the electoral map (50 maybe?), the importance of being visionary, and the dilemma that the American education system is in. As I listened (being 20 yards away), I thought to myself "this guy is it." I had an out of body moment because here is a guy whose speeches I had seen video of and whose record I had examined but had never seen in person, and here he is, right in front of me, giving an address. I had a "what am I doing here" moment several times.
So right after the speech, people are standing and applauding, and guess where he comes down to first? That's right. The DMW table. That was a very cool moment.
But the cooler moment happened a bit later. After the event, we were handing out some flyers to enthusiastic post-address democrats about the prospect of a 2008 run. After the crowds leaving had died down a bit, the DMW folks were standing near the front doors of the convention center when I noticed Governor Warner and an staffer walking past. I see him looking over at us as he walked to the door, at which point he stopped, came over to us and said, "hey guys, we need to take a picture." At which point we did. It was really an amazing moment to have him come over and initiate the picture taking.
And let it be known here on out, that in January of 2009 when President Warner is sworn in, you saw the beginning of the journey right here.