Student, alumni supporters disappointed Warner won’t run for president

GW alumnus and former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner announced Thursday he would not run for U.S. president in 2008.

Talk of the former Thurston resident’s national ambitions has floated around since he was term-limited out of the governorship in fall 2005. Many members of his Forward Together Political Action Committee were eager to help him win the election. The 1977 political science graduate previously told supporters he would make his decision on the presidential race over Columbus Day weekend.

In a letter addressed to his supporters, Warner said his decision was not based on his opinion of whether or not he would win, but the experiences he would miss with his daughters and family.

“This weekend made clear what I’d been thinking about for many weeks – that while politically this appears to be the right time for me to take the plunge – at this point, I want to have a real life,” Warner wrote in a statement last week. “And while the chance may never come again, I shouldn’t move forward unless I’m willing to put everything else in my life on the back burner.”

Dominic Gabello, the northeast political director of Warner’s PAC, admitted he is upset about the decision. He has worked with Warner since he graduated from GW in 2002.

“This country is in need of more leaders like him who will look for solutions, regardless of who or where they came from, to the problems that face our country today and in the future,” Gabello said. “So I’m not just disappointed – I’m actually at a loss as to where we’ll find that leadership.”

Gabello, who also serves as president of Virginia’s Young Democrats, said Warner’s bi-partisan efforts as Virginia’s governor were exactly the experience the next president needs.

“While we are all disappointed that he isn’t running, his message was really touching a chord with people throughout the country, especially young people,” he said.

As a leader of Warner’s supporters, Gabello said those who are disappointed should focus on electing Democrats in 2006, especially those who are supported by Warner’s PAC.

Another employee at Warner’s PAC, 2006 alumnus Adam Conner, said he hoped Warner would run.

“I’m disappointed obviously,” Conner said. “I thought the governor would have been a great leader, but I respect his decision.”

A GW College Democrat and Warner supporter, junior Dustin Wright, said that although he’s disappointed, he understands the governor’s motives.

“I guess there couldn’t have been a better reason,” Wright said. “I’m disappointed, yeah, but it’s hard to be upset with him.”

University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, who said he has donated money to Warner, was saddened by Warner’s decision.

“Well, I’m disappointed. I like Mark a lot,” Trachtenberg said Friday. “I thought it would be exciting to have a GW alumnus in the race.”

As for a potential job for Warner at GW, Trachtenberg quipped, “The future is the future still; today is today.”

-David Ceasar contributed to this report.

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