Mark Warner For Vice President?

Virginia is squarely in the center of Mark Warner's future political ambitions: "He's looking at the 2008 Senate race or the governor's race in '09: The other thing hasn't even come up," says Lars Anderson, his spokesman.

The "other thing" is the vice presidential nomination, and while Warner may shy away from those discussions today -- smart of him to do, of course, because becoming veep is never one of those jobs you have to pretend you don't want -- some of his friends and political donors are trying to nurture his national political aspirations.

And now, two people close to Warner say he has told them -- when they ask -- that he would be open to accepting the vice presidential nomination. "If asked he would accept," said one Democrat close to Warner who asked not to be identified.

Before he decided not to run for president, Warner recruited dozens of Democratic donors and wealthy friends to help him raise $50M in six months. Many have now migrated to other campaigns. Those donors from New Jersey -- Wall Street types, hedge funders -- often extole his virtues to Sen. Hillary Clinton, and those who joined Sen. Barack Obama's campaign have been talking Warner up to several members of Obama's inner circle. Since he decided in November of last year not to run for president, Warner has traveled to more than a dozen states and kept in contact with major Democratic party donors and his presidential staff.

It's too early for Warner himself to begin to lobby for the position, and a friend says flatly that he is "not running for VP." But in this game, one often has to be invited to participate, and it's likely that Warner's name will be among the first floated by the Democratic nominee.

The vice presidential balance sheet looks like this. Warner is fairly well vetted, having survived a brutal election in Virginia and some of the pre-presidential scrutiny. He is undeniably smart and hard-working, has an attractive family and wife, has innovative ideas and knows how to run business. His political attraction, on one level, is unmatched. His advisers believe that, if he were on the ticket, he'd give the Democrats a real shot to win Virginia. On the other hand, he has no national security experience to speak of. Politically, he'd complement a candidate who polarized or a candidate who had experience but who wanted someone different.

Here's the main truth about the veep selection: it's hard to believe this from reading Bob Shrum's account of how John Kerry was picked, but the overwhelming majority of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden and Bill Richardson's advisers will tell their candidates that they can only pick someone with whom they are explictly and deeply compatible.

Warner's biggest challenge, should he decide to be courted, is to evince compatibility.

Warner today is the keynote speaker at an event sponsored by Democracy, the new Dem big-think magazine, about fiscal policy. Ex-Harvard pres/Treasury sec. Lawrence Summers is among the speakers. One of Democracy's co-founders, Kenneth Baer, was a Warner presidential adviser.