Warner didn't disappoint (unlike the food), showing some compelling characteristics as a presidential candidate. As governor of a red state, he has positioned himself as more of a centrist than Hillary. After 8 years of torture by a corrupt and incompetent Republican President, liberal voters in the primaries may well tolerate Warner's moderate platform in order to nominate a Democrat who is more electable in November than Kerry or Hillary.
Warner spoke well at dinner, telling his story in such a natural way that he conveys the image of a statesman smart enough to converse without the crutch of staff-crafted speeches. Buoyed by a successful stint as His Excellency of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Warner brings credibility and sophistication to social issues like the economic marginilization of small town America. A co-founder of Nextel, Werner promises to extend the benefits of technology more broadly, catching the US up to other nations in broadband internet penetration and IT training programs. Indeed, one of his accomplishments in Virginia was a novel program that issued PCs to churches in order to attract interest and trust in a Tech Riders program that trained 16,000 of the state's rural citizens. (If you can't beat the brainwashers, join them!)
What about the downside to Warner? (i) He's a venture capitalist (not very sympathetic) but he is also a self-made success--the first of his family to graduate college. (ii) He offered nothing new on the challenge of Iraq, but does anyone have good answers to that quandary? (iii) I don't know if it's naivete, partisan politics, or simple pandering, but Warner dislikes Health Savings Accounts--a revolutionary step for US healthcare that, like it or not, the Republicans passed. (iv) As for Warner's unfortunate opposition to gun control, it's admittedly not the most important issue of the day.
Overall, Warner came across as intelligent, real, and electable, and so I hope his candidacy continues to gain steam. But if Werner portrays himself as the Technology President, he ought not pass up the opportunity to be the first Presidential Blogger.
What better way to expose himself to the electorate than to document his own journey as a candidate? Warner's blog (he can even use my post title "Mark My Word") would give him a chance to explain his vision in more depth than sound bites, and to genuinely mull the tough questions people ask him as he campaigns. Warner could comment on world affairs as they happen, shaping his own medium rather than begging for airtime or expecting voters to shell out $25 for a hardcover book with stale, over-edited observations. Better than a one-way commercial, his blog comments would function as a running town hall meeting.
A recent study of 56,000 blog readers suggests that:
Political blog browsers may be the most engaged in the blogosphere. The largest portion of the bunch read five blogs each day, and over 18 percent spend 10 hours each week reading blogs. In the last six months, 70 percent contributed to a cause or campaign online, 41 percent spending $100 or more.
To be fair, the PAC behind Mark's campaign does have a blog, but it's not a personal statement from Mark himself. At least the site shows off some cool technology, like the Flash talking head of Mark (which changes for repeat visitors).
Mark, if you really want our country to leverage the web, start with your own campaign.