- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama tapped Mark Warner to deliver the keynote address on the second night of the Democratic National Convention, boosting the former Virginia governor’s run for U.S. Senate and the party’s bid to steal the state from Republicans in the presidential race.

Mr. Obama, who is poised to accept the party’s nomination for president Aug. 28 at the Denver convention, selected Mr. Warner for the coveted speaking slot to highlight his success as a Democratic governor “delivering jobs and hope” in a largely Republican state, the campaign said.

“His work creating jobs in southwest and Southside Virginia is a model for the rest of the country,” Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said. “It’s that kind of spirit and innovation that resulted in his selection as keynote speaker on a night when we will be discussing how to renew America’s promise.”

The Obama campaign said Mr. Warner’s leadership style echoed the convention theme of “America coming together for change.”

The keynote address is a coup for Mr. Warner, who will bask in the national spotlight and have the opportunity to awe Virginia voters. It can only add momentum to his Senate run against Republican James S. Gilmore III, who Mr. Warner leads by as much as 25 points in recent polls.

The speech also could catapult Mr. Warner to national prominence, as it did Mr. Obama in 2004 when he was a U.S. Senate candidate in Illinois.

Mr. Warner, who made a fortune in the cellular telephone industry and served as governor from 2002 to 2006, said he was excited to have the chance to showcase Virginia’s success story and “the results we achieved in our effort to help people compete in a changing economy.”

“By working cooperatively with Republicans, Democrats and independents, we restored integrity to Virginia’s budget process and focused on bringing jobs to the hardest-hit regions in the commonwealth,” he said.

Mr. Warner briefly flirted with a presidential run but settled on the Senate race, rebuffing early speculation that he would be a good running mate for Mr. Obama.

The choice of Mr. Warner for the speaking role stoked speculation about Mr. Obama’s pick for a running mate, since the short list of possible vice presidential nominees includes Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine. It would buck conventional wisdom for the campaign to put two Virginians in the prime-time limelight.

Mr. Warner is scheduled to give the prime-time speech Aug. 26, followed by the soon-to-be-named vice presidential nominee addressing the convention Aug. 27 and Mr. Obama accepting the nomination Aug. 28.

Prominent speaking spots also have been slated Aug. 25 for Michelle Obama, Aug. 26 for Mr. Obama’s primary rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Aug. 27 for former President Bill Clinton, who will take the stage prior to the vice presidential nominee.

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