Potential presidential candidate in Avon
AVON ” In a state that’s 2-to-1 Republican, former Democratic Virginia governor Mark Warner said he achieved an 80 percent approval rating.
He said that’s proof he can appeal to moderate Republicans suspicious of Democrats or unhappy with the current administration as he contemplates a run for president in 2008.
“It’s hard … to find Republicans now who can look at the administration in Washington and say it’s fiscally responsible, that it’s truly strong on Homeland Security, that it has improved America’s economic competitiveness,” Warner said.
“There’s a wide swath of independent and moderate Republicans that are looking for a different approach, but they want an approach that’s not going to simply be bashing Republicans or bashing the president, but actually lays out an agenda where our country goes from here,” Warner said.
In a short interview after a speech and fundraising appearance at a home in Avon’s exclusive Mountain Star neighborhood, Warner, who’s seen as a challenger to Hillary Clinton for the party’s presidential nomination in 2008, said the divide in America now is not so much between conservatives and liberals, but between the past and the future.
He said the war on terror will be one of the major challenges of the future, but that fight has been made more difficult by the fighting in Iraq.
“The war in Iraq originally was not a battle against al-Qaida, it was about removing Saddam Hussein,” he said. “The problem is now we’ve allowed Iraq to become a haven for al-Qaida ” we’ve allowed Iraq to become a place for Iranian expansion, which sponsors terrorism throughout the whole world.”
The U.S. cannot just pull out of Iraq, but must figure out a way to leave without increasing the threat of terrorism or Iran’s influence in the region, Warner said.
The U.S. must attempt to gather allies and Iraq’s neighbors in peace talks similar to the Dayton Accords that ended much of the fighting in the former Yugoslavia, and make it clear Americans have no interest in being an occupying force in the Middle East.
The war on terror also will require a strong military, Warner said.
“It also requires a strong military that we ask to do the military job and to do it in a way that doesn’t require them to take on the whole challenge of nation building without a political strategy to go along with it,” Warner said. “And that’s what you’ve got in Iraq.”
A part of the war on terror is the nation’s energy policy, which Warner called a failure. The U.S. must cut its dependence on foreign oil and invest heavily in alternative energy.
“I think we should argue it not only from the standpoint of the threat of global warming ” which is real ” but from the standpoint that if we got this right, this would be part of the war on terror by not continuing to send American dollars to countries that fund the terrorists,” he said.
“We’re in effect funding both sides of the war on terror.”
The government, for example, could invest in the auto industry in exchange for the auto industry investing in the next generation of hybrid cars, Warner said.
“If we could make alternative-energy development the same economic engine that (information technology) and telecom was in the ’90s,” he said, “we could not only create American jobs, we could not only improve national security, but we might just save the planet along the way.”
Assistant Editor for Local News Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 748-2926 or email@example.com.
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