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tv   U.S. Senate Senators on John Warner  CSPAN  May 27, 2021 4:09am-4:37am EDT

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the presiding officer: correct. mr. warner: mr. president, i rise today you to mourn the -- i rise today to mourn the passing of a statesman, a patriot, a mentor, a friend, and someone who loved this institution as much as anybody i know. and that is the passing late
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last night of senator john warner. i'm joined here by my friend of 39 now, maybe 40, 40 years, tim kaine, and we're going to go back and forth a little bit as we talk about someone who played an enormously important role in both of our lives, i can say on a personal baifsz and a political basis. let 3450e -- me get some of the basic facts out. john warner was 94 years old when he passed. he was born in washington, d.c. d.c., a family from amherst, virginia. joined the united states navy at the age of 18 in the waning days of world war ii. served 1945-1946.
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left the military and rejoined the marines in 1950 when the korean war was started. after he left the military, he was a, worked for the u.s. attorney, worked in private practice, got involved in republican leader politics in virginia at this point. i think senator kaine will probably speak to this, being involved in republican politics in the late 1950's, early 1960's, that was the progressive party in virginia. ended up serving president nixon as secretary of the navy, then was head of the bicentennial. in 1978, in a campaign that tim will probably comment on, got elected to the united states senate where he then served for five terms, 30 years. john warner was a remarkable guy. he was someone, i say this
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again respectfully, he looked the part, he sounded the part. he could say things that if it came out of my mouth or even somebody as eloquent as senator kaine, it might sound a little over the top. coming out of john warner, it's always sounded senatorial, thoughtful, and pretty darned cool. how i got to know john was really kind of an unusual way. i was a little bit active in democratic politics in the late 1980's, early 1990's. then i had the audacity in 1996 to actually run against john warner, which, by the way, john warner versus mark warner managed to confuse the hell out of most virginians. the takeaway from that campaign, we had a bumper strip
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in the campaign that simply said idea -- mark, not john. honest to goodness truth i was in danville near the north carolina border one day and got out of the car and somebody saw the bumper strip and i'm trying to shake hands, i was not that well known and looked at me and said, see that bumper strip, is that a biblical reference? there was no divine intervention. the right warner won that race and john warner got reelected. and the thing that i didn't understand then that i understand better now is after you run against somebody, even in a respectful campaign, you bear some scars, some bruises, whatever. i got really close to john warner in terms of that race. almost beat him. but afterwards -- i was thinking about continuing maybe
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maybe, thought about running for governor. john warner was willing to become my friend. and got elected governor. he was republican, i'm a democrat. and anything i tried to do as governor that was hard, like a transportation referendum up here, john warner was right there by my side saying we're going to do what's right for virginia. we had a battle where our budget was way out of whack and i had a two to one republican legislature, and i can still remember sneaking him into the state capitol so the press corps wouldn't see him. and he got up on the third floor where the pressroom was, and in like a zeus moment said politics be damned. we're going to do what's right for virginia. the truth is we ended up fixing that challenge, virginia got named best state for business. we made record investments in education. i'm not sure if we would have
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gotten there if john warner hadn't been willing to not only use his own personal political capital. but this is the time when everybody was signing those crazy no new tax pledges, and john warner said politics be damned, let's do what's right for virginia. tim will talk probably a little bit about this. his role as chairman of the armed services committee was legendary, and there is not a sailor, soldier, marine, airman anywhere in virginia, for that matter anywhere in the country that doesn't owe a debt of gratitude to john warner. i live in alexandria, close to the river. i look out my window each day and see the woodrow wilson bridge, which was for those of us who live in this region was a big bottleneck and decay. how john warner got $1.2 billion for that bridge when it was way down the list in terms of getting reif you refurbished isa story that can't be told on the
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senate floor. but as john got older, i tried my one hiem against him, if he wanted to stay in this seat, i think he could stay as long as he wanted. in if -- in 2008 he decided he would go out at the top of his game. i would go see him. i know senator kaine would as well. always ask his advice and counsel. tell two more quick stories and then eel yield -- i'll yield to my friend senator kaine and we can go back and forth a little bit. in 2014 i was so extraordinarily honored when john warner, republican senior senator john warner endorsed mark warner for the u.s. senate. that kind of thing doesn't happen in politics too much these days. and i can remember up and down through the shenandoah valley there was one trip where senator kaine and i were campaigning with john, and he was at that point already in kind of his 80's with a walking stick.
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let me assure you, we had both been former governors and we had both kind of thought we knew our stuff, but whenever john warner was in the room we were the junior guys and followed his lead. as a matter of fact in the last campaign where he endorsed me again, there was one fundraiser we went to. he introduced me. i did my little talk, and then he kind of took his walking stick and whacked me on the shins and said, sit down, mark, i have more to say. and for 30 minutes told old stories about how the senate used to work. i never been at a fundraiser where people got more than their money's worth than that night. john was disturbed about where our country was headed, the lack of respect for the rule of law, what was happening to his
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beloved republican party, but he always kept that burning sense of optimism. i saw him four or five weeks ago, pretty frail, but he still oftentimes with a pocket square and looking like he just stepped out of a, you know, hunt country magazine, but was asking about, how, you know, how we could get the senate back on track and how we could always put our country first. i want to say a couple of other things, but let me yield at this point to my -- my dear friend senator kaine. we in virginia, we're blessed to -- our country was blessed to have him and i'm going to miss him horribly. but i do know this much. when i'm wrestling with an issue, i often will think, you know, what would john warner do, and i would follow that mantra,
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the chances are i'm doing the right thing for virginia and for our country. i will miss him greatly, and i'd be happy to yield to my friend and colleague, the other senator from virginia. mr. kaine: well, mr. president, i want to thank my best friend in politics, senator mark warner, and i just realized something. john warner defeated in an election my best friend in politics, and john warner also defeated in an election my political hero, my father-in-law, who was governor of virginia from 1970 to 1974. so i want to talk a little bit about john's effect on me personally and also when i was mayor of richmond and governor and i will hand it back to our senior senator. when john came back from the pacific in world war ii, he came
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back to complete his studies at washington and lee. he was a pacific ship guy in the navy and went back to lexington. my father-in-law was a submariner in the pacific during world war ii and also came back to complete his studies at washington and lee and john warner and lynnwood holton, my father met and they were part of the same fraternity. and john warner used to say my father-in-law broke a paddle across his backside in a fraternity hazing. they had a friendship for 75 years. my father-in-law still alive. he'll be 98 in september. it was an amazing friendship. they worked on frojts together. we were -- projects together. we were a one-party state
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burdened by the dixie-crats. and they had to build the republican party. my father-in-law was the first elected governor in virginia at the time john was secretary of the navy. one day a navy ship moored on the river and destroyed a bridge and my father-in-law called mr. secretary, yes, governor, one of your ships has broken one of my bridges. they had so much fun together as friends. in 1978, they ran against each other to be in this body, a four-way republican nominating convention. neither of them won. dick ovenchan won, john warner was second, my father-in-law was second and dick ove nchan was killed in a plane crash.
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my father-in-law threw his support behind john warner and john warner was the longest serving senator in virginia history. when i married ann, i was adopted into the john warner friendship society because of being part of the holton family. we were friends and i enjoyed him and admired him and saw his work here. i came into public life as a city counsel council. i was a young whipper snapper, i was mayor when i was 39 and by now john warner was mid-70's, but he would produce for the capital city. as mark knows, he had the same relationship when he was governor, i was goarn, i was -- governor, i was 45 or 46 and john -- i treated him like he was the senior partner, he kind of treated you when you were governor, he was like, we have
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to produce for the governor. we were working on the metro silver line project that derailed to dulles and the g.w. -- after decades of work and john warner helped us get in and save that project. a tremendous friend, a tremendous supporter, but i'll say this and then hand maybe to senator reed who might want to say a word and then back to senator warner, because i think senator warner might want to be our closer here. i got to know a new side of john warner when i came to the senate. i felt like we were like best friends and family friends and you helped me when i was governor. i came to the senate in 2014. he had been gone for four years, but i started to meet people i didn't know, john mccain and carl levin and jack reed and so many others who i did not know
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before i was here and then i really learned about john warner, i learned about his chair of the armed services committee, i learned about how he was in the middle of whatever gang was trying to do something good. i learned about his love for this institution. i learned about his love for his fellow senators. i was on a ticket with one of those fellow senators, senator hillary clinton, and stood with senator warner when he stood out to endorse us and he talked about such depth about working with senator clinton. i came to the dining room with john warner and it was like i brought in the pope. we sat down and all the staff, everybody working in the dining room, all the senators and their families were coming over to talk to john warner because they loved him so much and one of the reasons they loved him because they knew how much he loved the institution. there is so much i can say, but
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i will tell one more thing. john and i during my first term were talking about the senate and we were both regretting that the senate of today was not the senate that john warner served in. the relationship-based senate was turning into a more partisan senate and we were being candid about that. but when we finished, john said to me, old friend -- old friend is what he would call you. old friend, that's the way it is, but it's not in the water supply and it's not sick building syndrome. it's just in the character and priorities of people who walk in the doors every day. if you don't like the way it is right now, guess what, you will walk in the capitol tomorrow and it can be different tomorrow if you try to make it better. that was john's attitude about this country and about this institution, and it's just -- it leaves a big hole in my -- i'm
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just grappling with the big hole in my life not to have john warner to go to and seek his advice. and with that, i yield to the chairman of the armed services committee, the senator from rhode island. mr. reed: thank you very much, senator kaine and senator warner. i am here today to pay tribute to to an extraordinary gentleman, a great senator, a decent and honorable individual, the paragon of what we'd all like to do, john warner. john was someone who appreciated everyone, respected everyone, and treated people with kindness and he has monumental achievements, but at the end of his days, i think people will remember him most for the kindness, the personal help of those things that he did naturally because he was an
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extraordinarily -- an extraordinary gentleman. he also was a patriot, not in words, not in wearing a lapel pin or doing something like that. he joined the navy at 18 years old at the end of world war ii because he wanted to defend and serve the nation. he didn't get overseas, but in 1950, with the korean war, he decided to drop everything he was doing and join the united states marine corps, and he served with distinction and left the service as a captain in the marine corps. so he knew what it was like to be a sailor, a marine, a soldier, an airman, and he never forgot that. and that-month-olded -- that molded his service to this country, it was about service, it was about sacrifice and it was about protecting the other fellow. that was john warner. he was bipartisan, because
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again, his focus was on the country. it wasn't party, it was principle and what is best for the country. and i think that dedication stems from the fact that he knew that all across the world, all through his tenure in the senate and his public life, there were thousands of young americans defending us, and he wanted to make sure they were well prepared and well protected. and as chairman of the armed services committee, he did that. and he did it in an extraordinary bipartisan way. he set a tone and temper with the committee that is still with us today, that is imbued in what we all try to do. now, he was someone who had a sparkle in his eye. he always had a sense of humor, a sense of, i won't say mischief, but probably close to
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mischief, and i can remember the codel he organized. this was his major codel going into iraq in 2003, and, of course, it was bipartisan, senator levin, senator cornyn, myself, myself and others. we were in there because john had to see first hand what the troops were experiencing, what he could do to help them, what he needed to know about the situation. again, public service even if it's inconvenient is something that he did constantly. but also, he said, as i said, this sense of mischief and twinkle in his eye. now, as we flew out of iraq, we had to find a place to spend overnight so the crew could rest. and john, being a very sophisticated gentleman, a former secretary of the navy, knew that there was a nice place
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to spend a few hours. so we landed in suda bay and john arranged that we would get on a bus, drive up to this beautiful restaurant overlooking , and have a nice night of greek food and have a night of fellowship, bipartisan fellowship and you could tell he was enjoying himself because other people were enjoying themselves. we will miss him. and i just hope and pray that his example of thoughtful, principled bipartisanship is recognized and honored today its it was when he was here with us. with that, i would yield to my colleague. mr. warner: thank you, senator reed. i know that senator thune is here and i will be brief.
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you mentioned, senator reed, about his occasional twinkle in his eye. i'm not sure this is the right time to tell the story. that twinkle would light up when he would talk about his sailing trips with senator kennedy and senator chris dodd and talking about selected locations at selected moments in time. and many of them in rhode island. the two other comments i want to make is, one was, again, to show that both of our political parties sometimes go awry, but one of the things that john warner did, he didn't need to do this, he was a sitting senator, well respected, senior, there was a fellow in virginia that was getting into politics that had kind of a checkered history. and sometimes was not necessarily always willing to tell the truth.
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his name was oliver north. and jordan -- and john warner did not think that mr. north had the personal characteristics that ought to be a senator of virginia. and at great political risk to himself, he was willing to make that known. didn't leave the party, his party. he said that his republican party had to stand for principles, truth, and the respectful rule of law. again, an example of the john warner that was so special. more recently, as senator kaine knows, we in virginia, we have a very checkered history with race, and in the aftermath of brown versus board of education, there are a number of school divisions that literally shut down rather than letting white
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children go to school with black children. and in prince edward county, which is a little town called farmville, a group of black students had done a walkout, their case had become a brown versus board of education case, for a couple of years, black students had no place to go because there was -- they took the public money and put it into private academies and there were no public schools. a great blot on the history of virginia. and leaving these young people, now not so young, when this issue came up in 2002 or 2003, with a big hole in their education. so we thought we could maybe end up providing these individuals an education, give them a couple of years of community college education. a fairly audacious idea from a
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local editor of the newspaper there. we came up with this. and at first, the legislature didn't want to do this. didn't want to take this on. so john warner got on the phone and called one of his friends, john kluke, a very successful business guy, and said will you put up the money, only a couple of million dollars. john and i worked up something let's go back to the legislature and shame them in doing the other million. we did that. it was one of the moving days of my life to see these individuals who had been cheated out of their education receive the ability to get an education, and john warner never wanted an ounce of credit and i don't think even to this day that story has been told too many times. i will close with this. i know i'm not supposed to do this. i will do this briefly. john warner appropriately got recognized for his service and
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has a submarine named after him. i remember going to the commission. he and his wife jeanne, they were so proud of the young men and women who were serving on that boat and that carry on the kind of sense of patriotism and public service that he exemplified, as we have both said. we're going to miss him a lot. i hope we will take that sense of his heart and courage and commitment and maybe rededicate ourselves to trying to follow in those -- follow that kind of example. with that, mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. surely schumer well, we were greeted this morning by some very sad news, that our former colleague, senator john warner of r, of virginia, had had passed away at the age of 94. a five-term senator, he was a


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