Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner used his keynote address at the Democratic convention to warn his party about the dangers of excessive partisanship.
“We need leaders who see our common ground as sacred,” said Warner, a heavy favorite in the race for an open Senate seat from his home state.
Rather than casting the contest between Barack Obama and John McCain as one between liberals and conservatives or Democrats and Republicans, Warner spoke of a race between “the future and the past.”
“And we have one chance to get it right,” he said.
The crowd on the floor of the Pepsi center received his remarks with tepid applause and occasional half-hearted cheers.
Warner's references to John McCain were mostly veiled, talking about the “status quo” and a “continuation of past policies.” He mentioned McCain by name only twice.
Warner won his warmest applause when he lit into the policies of President Bush. His main complaint about Bush, Warner said, was that the President didn't ask more of Americans. “He never asked us to step up.”
The goodwill Warner had built with his Bush critique evaporated, though, when he returned to his bipartisan refrain.
“I know we're at a Democratic convention, but if an idea works, it really doesn't matter if it has an R or a D next to it,” Warner said. “We're all in this together.”
Warner himself had predicted the flat reception his speech had received.
“There may be parts of the speech that aren't going to get a lot of applause,” Warner told the Associated Press. “But I've got to say what I believe will get our country back on the right path.”