The Washington Times - June 5, 2008, 01:47PM

BRISTOL, Va. — Sen. Barack Obama is kicking off his general election campaign here in Southwest Virginia, near the border with Tennessee, and has one of the most popular public figures from the Commonwealth at his side.

Former Gov. Mark Warner gave a resounding endorsement from the podium, calling Obama a “good man.” His wife, Lisa Collis, has supported Obama for months.



“I’m asking you to take the time to get to know this man,” Warner said, noting the region took a chance on him - a rich businessman from Northern Virginia - in 2001.


“This is a good man. This is a man of deep faith. This is a man who has spent his lifetime bringing people together,” Warner said.


Obama gave a ringing endorsement right back to the U.S. senate candidate - for the presidency.


Obama said when he started thinking about running for president there were “a couple people who I said to myself, ‘Now, that guy would actually be a pretty good president.’ And one of those people is Mark Warner.”


Which is amusing, since Sen. Hillary Clinton - obviously not a “guy” - was the prohibitive favorite at the time.


Warner announced he had decided not to run back in October 2006.


The Democrats here sharing the state with Obama said they were proud he’d picked Virginia.


“It says a lot about somebody about where they choose to start their campaign,” Warner said.


Christina Bellantoni, national political reporter, The Washington Times