Home 2019 Elections Video: Former Sen. John Warner (R) Endorses Clinton-Kaine, Slams Trump

Video: Former Sen. John Warner (R) Endorses Clinton-Kaine, Slams Trump


This morning in Alexandria, former Sen. John Warner (R) recounted his military (US Navy) experience, talked about the “privilege” of wearing the uniform of his country, said he “reached into the depths of my heart,” thought about the “fundamentals of duty and honor and country,” and decided to endorse Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine. Warner called Kaine a “beautiful man inside and out…unquestioned integrity.” “There comes a time when I have to stand up…and assert my own views…If there’s one thing about candidate Clinton that you’ve got to understand, she has always throughout her whole life prepared, done her homework and studied.” He said we have the “strongest military in the world…it is NOT in shambles” (as Trump says).

Warner SLAMMED Trump, and rightfully so: “Noone should have the audacity to stand up and degrade the Purple Heart, degrade military families, or talk about the military being in a state of disaster – that’s wrong!” According to Warner: “Loose lips sink ships. You got that Trump?” (Full quote: “I remember back in boot camp in the winter of 1945, when Iwo Jima was going on and big battles in Europe – the Battle of the Bulge was that time – they drilled into us 17-, 18-year-old kids day after day; there was a placard on the wall that simply stated, ‘Loose lips sink ships.’ Got that, Trump? Loose lips sink ships.'”) He also said you can’t learn national security overnight (like Trump), and that he watched the debate and said “the film speaks for itself” re: Trump. “Respectful” is a word “totally lacking” in the Republican ticket.

From the Clinton campaign:

Spotlighting National Security, Tim Kaine, Republican Senator John Warner Warn Against Trump Candidacy in Northern Virginia

Warner on His WWII Boot Camp: ‘They Drilled Into Us ‘Loose Lips Sink Ships.’ Got That, Trump? Loose Lips Sink Ships!’

Former five-term Republican Senator John Warner of Virginia and Democratic vice presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine held a joint event today in Alexandria, Virginia, where Warner announced his support for Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine — the first time he will vote for a Democratic presidential ticket in his life. Introduced by Kaine, Warner, a former Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and former Secretary of the U.S. Navy, laid out the stakes of this election, especially for our military men and women and their families. Citing her composure and preparedness in Monday’s debate, Warner also said Clinton is by far the strongest and most experienced candidate on a full range of national security issues and that she has the knowledge, steadiness and temperament to be Commander in Chief.

In their remarks, both Kaine and Warner highlighted how, if elected, Clinton and Kaine will provide service members with the respect, support and dedicated leadership they deserve and work with our allies around the world to keep American families safe.

“We have today the strongest military in the world,” Warner said. “No one can compare with us… No one should have the audacity to stand up and degrade the Purple Heart, degrade military families, or talk about the military being in a state of disaster. That’s wrong.” On Clinton’s readiness to be Commander in Chief, he added, “She throughout her whole life has been prepared, done her homework and studied… I say to those who are still working their way through the decision on how to vote, there is a solid base of recorded fact to which you can refer and have the confidence to say, that candidate is the one that is fit and ready to lead our great free country and to lead the world in the cause of freedom.”

Kaine and Warner’s remarks as delivered are below:

TIM KAINE: “Good morning. What a great group of friends, and how – this is an emotional occasion because of the connections that I have to Mark and to John. First, Mark, thank you so much for your friendship. It’s been 37 years now that we’ve known each other. We met each other before either of us met our spouses, and there were years especially when I was the lieutenant governor where we spent more time together than we spent with either of our spouses.  And I’ve heard that junior senator thing about a million times – in the four years I’ve been in the Senate, but it always makes me feel great. And I do say this, that of the 50 pairs of state senators, there is no pair that is as close as Mark and I are – to each other, our families. And his leadership, whether it’s on fiscal issues or thinking about the new world of work or his leadership on the Intelligence Committee is something that serves Virginia so well, just as he has for his time as governor and senator. And Mark, I just want to say thank you for your great, great friendship and for your service, and to others.

[…] in our pre-program, and talked about his passion for public service and the stakes in this race, and we have so many national security leaders and veterans and people who have served the country so well here. I just want to welcome you to this day – a very, very important day.

And I want to just talk about my friend, John Warner, and what it means to me that he is here supporting our ticket. John, before he was a public servant, to me he is a family friend. The Holton family and my family, the Kaine family, we have deep, deep love and affection for John. He was in the Navy in World War II in the Pacific and so was my father-in-law, Linwood Holton. He – Lin was a submariner and you were a surface guy, and they came –“

JOHN WARNER: “I was a seaman.”

TIM KAINE: “Seaman. Alright, so he is going to correct me. They came back to W&L together after World War II and were in the same fraternity. There’s an apocryphal story that I’ve never cared to research that my father-in-law broke a paddle across John Warner’s hindquarters in a fraternity event.  But that time together at W&L started a friendship that is now in its 70th year of friendship between Lin, my father-in-law who just turned 93, and John Warner. They were friends battling together to build a two-party system in Virginia. Lin was the first elected Republican governor of the Commonwealth, elected in 1969. They were colleagues when Lin was governor and John was secretary of the Navy, because Virginia is the center of naval power not only in the United States but in the world, and they worked together. And Lin tells a story about one day a storm unmooring a ship down on the Elizabeth River that ran into a bridge, and the governor had to call the secretary of the Navy and said, ‘John, one of your ships broke one of my bridges. What are you going to do about it?’

This friendship of – it was then a 30-year friendship in 1978. John Warner and my father-in-law Lin ran against each other for the United States Senate in a four-way Republican primary, or a convention. John finished second. My father-in-law finished third. The candidate who won that primary in 1978, at that convention, Dick Obenshain, was killed in a plane crash and so at that point the nomination was open and Linwood threw his support behind his friend John because he knew he would be elected and be a great senator, and for more than 30 years John served our Commonwealth so very, very well.

You’ve heard about his record as a – in the Navy in World War II, as a Marine in Korea, as secretary of the Navy, as head of the U.S. Bicentennial Commission before he was senator. But when I think about John Warner, what I think about is somebody who is a dear friend. That he could be a friend with a Mark Warner who ran against him and have that friendship be strong; that he could be a friend of my father-in-law and have that friendship tested by a competitive race for Senate in 1978 and have that friendship remain strong; that he could be my friend as a Democratic governor and Senator, always willing to offer me advice – is just remarkable. People are so cynical about politics these days. They’re so cynical about the division that they see. And they wonder if people can work together on the big issues that matter to us. John Warner is the example of how it can be done and how it should be done.

When I decided to run for the Senate in 2012, John Warner was not going to make any endorsement, but it will not surprise you to know that John Warner was very willing to give advice. I called you up. I was done being governor after 16 years in local and state office, and I was not sure that I wanted to run for the Senate when Jim Webb announced that he was not going to run, and I was looking to get perspective from people. And I called John Warner and he said something that was at once kind of poignant and touching, but also kind of uplifting. He said, ‘Tim, if this were 1978 and you were calling me to ask about running for the Senate, I would tell you that if you had a 1 percent chance of winning, you should do it because it is the best job ever.’ He said, ‘I can’t tell you that now in 2012. I just – I can’t say it the same way. There’s a whole series of things that have made it more difficult, that have made the body a little bit more polarized,’ and he went through some of those things. He said, ‘So I can’t give you that unequivocal ‘whatever your chances, you should do it because you won’t regret it.’ I can’t say that to you. But what I can tell you is this: the change from the time I started in 1978 to now, it’s not sick building syndrome, it’s not in the water supply; it’s in the character and the attitude and the inclination of people who walk into the building every day, and that means it can change, and it can change for the good. You just have to walk into that building with the right attitude, and that’s all that it takes for the place to be exactly like it was when I started to serve in 1978.

John Warner, I know to Mark and to me, is our great example of public life in Virginia because he’s proud of who he is, he’s been proud to be a member of the GOP, but he’s always put country and Commonwealth above anything else, and especially on matters of national security. As a member of the Armed Services and the Foreign Relations Committees, in a state that is the most connected both to our military and diplomatic missions of any state, as the father of a Marine infantry officer deployed overseas for the second time, I want leadership. I want leadership in the presidency and the commander-in-chief. I want leadership in the Senate, but people who understand that you have to put country first, especially on matters of national security. There is no one in public life in my lifetime who has exemplified that attitude more than my great friend, John Warner, and I’m so pleased to bring him to the microphone now. Please give him a warm welcome.”

JOHN WARNER: “Thank you very much, Tim. And I express my heartfelt appreciation to all of you who got here early this morning to have this brief ceremony with two dear and valued friends. I’ll speak more about this man a little later and I’ll speak a little bit about him. But I want to first and foremost tell you, as I reach into the depths of my heart this morning, I think of the one thing: how the dickens I got from there to here and a career of so many years of great opportunity that this nation has given me.

I look back on those days – I think in World War II, it was the last year of the war, the Battle of the Bulge, and all of us – 17 – we really wanted to get away from home and be free of our parents, if you want to know the honest truth. But we all enlisted in the service of our choice, and I wanted to be a Marine but my father, bless his heart, had been in World War I as an Army captain, a doctor in the trenches, and he said, ‘Son, you want to go somewhere where you can not be in the mud, as I was for 14 months. Go in the Navy.’ And mother said, ‘Oh, yes, you’ll get some clean sheets.’ So I settled for the good old Navy and enjoyed it – a wonderful thing.

But I would not have the privilege to have had this public service career had it not been for the fundamentals taught me by my generation beginning in that last year of World War II. And I look back with deep respect for those that taught me the fundamentals of duty and honor and country at the age of 17 and 18. And to the many veterans who have gathered here this morning, I simply say we’ve all spun our yarns through the years, but I’m here solely because of what I learned and then subsequently in the Marine Corps, and that was a little bit different and a little rougher. And I’ll never forget one time when I was SECNAV, I was giving a speech, and there were a couple of old sailors down in the front seat, and it was announced that I was the first-in-history secretary to ever be – served as an enlisted man in the Navy and then as a young officer in the Marine Corps serving in career. And one guy turned to the other and said, ‘Hey, this kid’s a late-blooming genius.’ And the other one says, ‘Why do you say that?’ ‘Well, the dumb kid had to go to boot camp twice.’ Yes, I did.

So those of us that have had the privilege – and I say the privilege – to have worn the uniform of our country, we have that deep sense of humility and gratitude for what we were taught. And I’m here today solely because of what I was taught, and I applied those principles as I went along in the public life that this great country offered me the opportunities. And now, in the twilight of a career – I’ve never been caught, never been arrested, but you know it’s not too late; it could happen. But I aspire in this election to have a very quiet, soft-spoken participation, and I will, when I go into the booth, cast a vote for the Clinton-Kaine ticket.

[…] and I cannot say better than Mark is a beautiful man inside and out. He exemplifies what this country needs foremost, a man off unquestioned integrity, family tradition, following church and God, and all the wonderful things of the principles that have kept this country strong as it is.

But I say to you, as Mark spoke earlier, that we have gone back 25 years we have been friends, and I think close to 25 years since I made my first appearance with you down in Richmond when you were running the council as mayor. I’ll never forget that because when I got to the event, the first thing I did was tell him all the things wrong about how he planned the event. He said, well, Senator if there was time, but it’s too late to change. Here’s your podium. Get up there and flap your jaws and say the best you can to the crowd.

But I do want to correct you on one thing. You spoke about your father-in-law, Linwood. And he was a submariner, an officer. And he did serve. He went on one patrol in the Pacific. And I was ready to go to the Pacific when that chapter in history foreclosed that war very swiftly. And so I never got over there. And I always tell him I should have done it and I was ready to do it. We were trained for the invasion of Japan. Fortunately for not only the United States and particularly in Japan, it never occurred, because it would have been devastating, But anyway, that’s history.

But we are now in this posture today in America where we are, like it or not, the leader of the free world. We are looked to, not only here at home but throughout the globe, for leadership. And we’re on the brink of selecting, between two individuals, that individual that is best qualified to lead this nation, and first and foremost, to have a very first and fundamental understanding about how this nation developed, how we got to where we are, how we became the leader of the world, and what our responsibilities are to maintain peace and freedom, not just for us but for much of the world.

And that cannot be learned overnight. You don’t pull up a quick text, like National Security for Dummies. That book hasn’t been published. It’s okay to use it for the computer, but that hasn’t been published. And it can’t be published. You have to build, on a foundation of experience, how you will go forward in the leadership of this country.

And I want to go back and address one chapter, one chapter that I know quite well, of Candidate Clinton’s experience to prepare to be the world leader and the United States president. And that was when she came to the Senate. It had been my good fortune to work up through the seniority system, and as you may know, when you get up there and your party’s in control, then the Republicans, in my case, would elect their officers in their committees. It’s done largely on the basis of seniority. But nevertheless, my team on Armed Services elected me to become ranking and chairman for 20 of the 30 years that I served on that committee.

And I’m everlastingly grateful to my colleagues for that opportunity because I tried to give that committee, and I think modestly I succeeded, a sense of direction. And just last week the Secretary of Defense – and I don’t say this to add anything to my career – as my partner – I had partners in Barry Goldwater and Sam Nunn and John Stennis and John Tower, all of them have been chairmen of that committee through the years, […]. And I learned from those people how to deal with the leadership issues on that committee. But we were told by the Secretary of Defense, we’re going to dedicate permanently a room in the Pentagon called the Levin-Warner Room solely because in the tenure that I had, and Carl, who also served 30-plus years, we achieved a greater consensus of bipartisanship on national security.

Let me tell you unequivocally, if you’ll study the history of the legislative record of the Congress of the United States going back, those military pieces of legislation, those that are done in a bipartisan consensus, stay on the law books and serve the country. Those that are jammed through purely on politics often are changed and modified. We need permanent legislation constantly for our military.

And that’s why I feel distressed about some of the comments made by the opponent to this ticket. And that is, this military is proud. They do not step forward and assert themselves. They leave it to you, the public, to tell how they’ve performed. And they have performed very well. We have today the strongest military in the world. No one can compare with us. Does it need to be modified and changed and added to and modernized? You bet it has. But it is not in shambles.

It is not the admirals and the generals and the seniors groveling in the hallways of the Pentagon because I was there two weeks ago, and I saw those very halls that I used to traverse for 5 years, 4 months, and 3 days in the Navy Secretariat, and they’re still as vibrant as the day I left there during the war in Vietnam. Those military people, be they four-star or enlisted, get up every day, work hard, do their jobs, do not seek any applause or acclaim, but just the opportunity to serve. And no one should have the audacity to stand up and degrade the Purple Heart, degrade military families, or talk about the military being in a state of disaster. That’s wrong.

As I’ve watched this race unfold, I said there comes a time when I’ve got to stand up, even though I’m basically in retirement, and assert my own views and say to those people in my great state of Virginia, and particularly those people who are still struggling with how they want to vote – and this has been an unusual election. I don’t doubt that. I’ve been through a lot. I was a personal aide in the Eisenhower and Nixon White House, a speechwriter, so I started 60-some-odd years ago in this system and have watched it and have worked with a president beginning with President Eisenhower and all of the presidents thereafter, in a modest way, and dealt with them, and right up to President Clinton.

And many a time, as chairman of the committee or ranking, whatever it was, I would go over because he was in the grips of a very difficult war in the Balkans. And a lot of people didn’t even know where the Balkans were and what we should do. But I saw him methodically study it, knowing – and he confessed to all of us he did not have a lot of background on military – how best to deal with that situation. And that’s what a president must do. They’ve got to understand there are times they don’t know everything, but they can learn, and particularly they can learn if they’ve got a foundation of their own experience to build upon, not go out and try and create it out of whole cloth after they’ve read two or three pieces – jeez, ridiculous.

I watched the debate, as all of us did, very carefully. I thought it was interesting, and I’ll just point out one thing. Candidate Clinton maintained that composure throughout that debate. The other candidate, in my judgment, did not. And you see today, ‘Well, my mike was being’ – all kinds of nonsense. And the film speaks for itself. You can’t rewrite it. There it is. But if there’s one thing about Candidate Clinton you’ve got to understand, she has always throughout her life prepared, done her homework, and studied.

When she joined our committee in the Senate, and I think I mention this chapter because I know her well and I can speak without any reluctance to tell you, she came to those meetings of the Armed Services Committee, over those six years that I worked with her, prepared. She always had a whole bunch of papers stuffed under her arm and dribbling out on the floor. She took her seat down at the end, and she would usually early on try to greet the witnesses.

And those hearings, hearing after hearing, her attendance record over that period of time I think was probably the best, second only to mine, because I was the chairman or ranking and I had to go, and whether I liked it or not. Other senators dart in and dart out. That’s understandable. I’m not being critical. But there she stood. She was well-prepared, and when it came to speaking to the military witnesses in questioning, she was firm but fair, and underlying it, respectful. That’s one word that’s totally lacking on the other side of this ticket – not your ticket but the other one. That is troublesome to me. And she prepared herself […] and for six years that was her pattern.

Now, folks, you don’t have to take my word for it. All that is in the record. Everything that committee has done is published in the Congressional Record or in other places, and it’s – I just looked at volumes and volumes preparing for this brief moment here this morning with you. And it’s all there, every word. You can actually read transcripts of her questioning the witnesses. So there is a solid base. I say to those who are still working their way through the decision on how to vote, there is a solid base of recorded fact to which you can refer and have the confidence to say, that candidate is the one that is fit and ready to lead our great free country and to lead the world in the cause of freedom. Thank you.

[…] I remember back in boot camp in the winter of 1945, when Iwo Jima was going on and big battles in Europe – the Battle of the Bulge was that time – they drilled into us 17-, 18-year-old kids day after day; there was a placard on the wall that simply stated, ‘Loose lips sink ships.’ Got that, Trump? Loose lips sink ships.”


Sign up for the Blue Virginia weekly newsletter

Previous articleNew Poll of Richmond Mayor’s Race: Morrissey Continues to Lead, Followed by Berry, Stoney and Baliles
Next articleThursday News: “The Greatest Generation’s rebuke of Trump”; “Seventh-Grade Bully Is Running for President”