Sen. John Warner announced that he will not seek reelection in Charlottesville, Virginia on Friday
WASHINTON (CNN) – In a phone conversation with CNN’s Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley, Virginia Republican Sen. John Warner said he had "mixed emotions" about his retirement. Warner admitted that worry over whether his seat might be won by a Democrat in 2008 was “a factor” in his decision, but indicated the passage of time may have been more influential.
Warner, who is 80 years old and would be almost 82 at the start of a sixth term, called his senate job "so dynamic, so demanding that it is really 24-7.”
“In the end, my thinking was driven by one thing, by what is fair, not to me, but to the people of this state,” he said. Warner has worked with many of the people mentioned as possible candidates for his now open seat. He acknowledged his retirement puts Virginia in play for Democrats, but said “you take the cards the voters deal you and go for it.”
A top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Warner made headlines recently when he called for some troops to start coming home by December to show the Iraqis that the U.S. commitment is not without end. Still, Warner told Crowley the war is not lost, saying there have been “some measurable gains” and American soldiers are helping sustain the Iraqi government by giving it “breathing space, so the legislative body can do their work.” In Warner’s view, however, Prime Minister Maliki’s government is not living up to its end of the bargain.
Warner said he is grateful for the 16 more months he has left to work on Iraq and Afghanistan, and without a campaign to worry about, he says no one can say “politics” is a factor in decisions he makes about those two conflicts.
Warner wouldn’t say whether he thought embattled Idaho Republican Sen. Larry Craig should resign his seat, but he did tell Crowley, “I think the Senate Republican leadership under Sen. Mitch McConnell are taking the right steps.”
Once he leaves the Senate, Warner hopes to do work in the philanthropic arena. Asked if he will miss the Senate, Warner said “you miss everything in life but you have to keep going out.”
– CNN’s Candy Crowley and Sasha Johnson