Clinton, Hillary Rodham, Dole, Robert J., Environment and Public Works Committee, Fundraising, Health care, Humor, Loring Air Force Base, Majority Leader, Middle East, Persian Gulf War, Republican Party, Transportation, U.S. Senate culture, U.S. Senators
John William Warner was born February 18, 1927, to John W. Warner and Martha Budd Warner. He grew up in Washington, D.C. and was graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1945. He enlisted in the Navy after high school and is a veteran of World War II. After leaving the service he attended Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, graduating in 1949. He attended law school at the University of Virginia but left to serve in the Marines during the Korean War; subsequently, he received his law degree from George Washington University in 1953, served as a law clerk and became an assistant U.S. attorney before going into private practice in 1960, when he also served as a member of Richard Nixon’s advance staff during the 1960 presidential campaign. He married Catherine Conover Mellon in 1967 and they had three children before divorcing in 1973. In 1969, Warner was appointed undersecretary of the Navy, and then in 1972 he rose to be secretary of the Navy, a post he held for two years. President Ford appointed him director of the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration. In 1976, he married Elizabeth Taylor; they divorced in 1982. In 1978, Warner ran unsuccessfully in the Virginia Republican primary for the U.S. Senate; however, when the nominee was killed in a plane crash, he was asked to step in with only ten weeks until the election. Warner managed a narrow victory, earning the nickname “Landslide Johnny,” and remained in the Senate for thirty years, eventually retiring in 2009 as Virginia’s second longest serving senator. At the time of this interview he was a partner at the firm Hogan & Hartson, now Hogan Lovells.
Interview includes discussion of: Warner’s entry into politics in 1960 as a member of then Vice President Nixon’s advance staff; opening Nixon’s Washington, D.C. office in 1968; serving as undersecretary, and later secretary, of the navy; working on the nation’s bicentennial; the 1978 Virginia Senate race; an anecdote about Warner and Mike Mansfield serving in the military; majority and minority leaders descriptions; the role of the filibuster in the Senate and how it has evolved; Mitchell’s Elizabeth Taylor joke and sense of humor in general; how the Republican caucus regarded Mitchell; an anecdote about Washington and Jefferson discussing the role of the Senate in the bicameral system; George Mitchell’s interest in environmental issues and the Clean Air Act; the ISTEA transportation bill; projects, or “pork”; the Gulf War Resolution; Mitchell’s views on military spending and awarding of shipbuilding contracts; BRAC proceedings and the Loring Air Force Base closure; the pendulum of political power; the political shift in 1980 with Reagan’s election; Reagan’s economic policies; how the culture of the Senate has changed; the increased importance of fund-raising; former House members in the Senate; Maine senators and distinguished careers; the Gang of Fourteen; Warner’s role in electing Bill Frist to majority leader; the Clintons’ attempt at health care reform; Warner’s role in encouraging Dole to run for majority leader; Hillary Clinton as a senator; Mitchell’s career since leaving the Senate; the challenges Mitchell faces as special envoy for the Middle East; Warner’s thoughts on leaving the Senate, and his plans for the future at the firm Hogan Lovells.
Audio permanently restricted. This transcription is © 2011 Bowdoin College and is presented for private study, scholarship, or research only. For all other uses, including publication, reproduction, and quotation beyond “fair use” (Title 17, United States Code) permission must be obtained in writing from the George J. Mitchell Dept. of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library, 3000 College Station, Brunswick, Maine 04011-8421, USA.