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Warner stresses bi-partisanship

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner didn’t give an overtly partisan speech during an appearance in Spotsylvania County on Tuesday, even though he was addressing a roomful of fellow Democrats.

Instead, Warner stuck with his familiar theme of working across the aisle to solve the nation’s issues.

“I know most of us here are Democrats,” Warner, a former Virginia governor, said at the opening of a Democratic campaign office in the Cosner’s Corner shopping center off U.S. 1. “But it’s going to require people that can actually find common ground.”

He added to applause: “There’s a time for us to be members of each party. I’m proud to be a Democrat, but I’m prouder to be an American.”

Warner never mentioned his opponent, Ed Gillespie, by name. Gillespie, a long-time Republican strategist, has painted Warner as a rubber stamp for President Barack Obama’s agenda.

Meanwhile, Warner noted to the Spotsylvania crowd that he has the support of a former Virginia senator with the same last name. “I’m proud of a lot of support I’ve gotten this campaign, but one of the proudest is that for the first time in his 30-year career in public service, Republican John Warner endorsed Mark Warner.” The current senator unsuccessfully challenged John Warner for his U.S. Senate seat in 1996.

Notable Fredericksburg-area residents at the campaign office opening included former Fredericksburg Mayor Lawrence Davies and former Spotsylvania Supervisor Emmitt Marshall. Warner noted that he served with Davies on the Commonwealth Transportation Board in the early 1990s.

“Let me tell you, when he and I served on the Commonwealth Transportation Board there was a lot less traffic,” said Warner, who credited Davies with helping him get into politics.

Congressional candidates Jack Trammell and Norm Mosher, both Democrats, also spoke briefly.

Trammell is facing off against Republican Dave Brat, who upset former Rep. Eric Cantor in the Republican primary for the 7th District House of Representatives seat. Mosher is challenging Rep. Rob Wittman, R–1st.

On the policy side, Warner talked about rising student debt, the Veterans Administration’s well-publicized problems and the country’s infrastructure issues.

“This is not a community that needs to be reminded that we’ve got some infrastructure problems in our country,” said Warner, who said it takes from “three hours to forever” to get to Fredericksburg from Alexandria. He owns a home in King George County.

He also said students should be able to refinance loans at lower interest rates.  “I worry when I see that young people now coming out of school aren’t coming out with $15,000 dollars worth of debt, they’re coming out with $50,000, $60,000 and $70,000 worth of debt, which is crushing their chances and hopes,” he said.

Warner did not bring up the Affordable Care Act. In April, he told a Fredericksburg audience that the country needs to keep what’s good about the healthcare law and fix what’s bad about it. Gillespie has said he would vote to repeal the law entirely.

Warner said Tuesday that “not all good ideas come with a D or an R attached to it.”

“The biggest thing we’ve got to fight, I think, is people who are saying, ah, the heck with it, I’m giving up. We give up, we turn the keys over to the extremes on either end of the political chain and that’s not where America gets our problems solved.”

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402