Senator, alumnus reflects on political career with College Democrats

Sen. Mark Warner speaks to students at a GW College Democrats event in the Marvin Center Amphitheater. Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer
Sen. Mark Warner speaks to students at a GW College Democrats event in the Marvin Center Amphitheater. Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer
This post was written by Hatchet reporter Ari Boyarsky

Mark Warner opened his address on campus Tuesday with a story about how he used to wake up every morning during his freshman year at GW to bike from Thurston Hall to his internship on Capitol Hill.

Warner, a Democratic senator from Virginia, delved into how he got his start as a politician and shared his views on national policy debates with the GW College Democrats in the Marvin Center.

Also the former governor of Virginia, Warner earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from GW in 1977, graduating at the top of his class. After he earned his law degree at Harvard Law School, he founded the venture capital firm Columbia Capital and invested in wireless service operator Nextel.

Warner said he would hesitate to pursue entrepreneurship if he were a recent college graduate today, predicting that the nation’s “next big crisis is student debt.”

He managed the campaign of the first black man to win Virginia’s race for governor, Douglas Wilder, in 1989 before making an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate in 1996. He won the governor’s seat five years later.

Warner lashed out at both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, calling for bipartisan solutions to gridlock on the Hill. He said lack of bargaining stonewalled his plans to address the nation’s deficit and debt on the Senate floor.

“I have paid the price as a senator for trying to be bipartisan,” Warner said.

Warner, who political analysts had once pegged for a possible presidential or vice presidential candidate, criticized the government’s Medicare and Social Security programs as unsustainable, but argued that the federal government still has a responsibility to “give everyone a fair shot.”

He also said in a question-and-answer session with the audience that he regrets he has not advocated more for education reform, and the government should set aside a larger chunk of its budget for research.

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