He has a lifetime American Conservative Union (ACU) score of 12.5 (his lowest marks were in 2011 with a score of 5), a 100 percent rating by the NARAL Pro-Choice America, a zero rating from the National Right to Life, and a solid 85 percent in 2012 (the last year the ADA scored) from the liberal Americans for Democratic Action. With numbers like that, Virginia's senior senator Mark Warner (D) may be a rather plain vanilla legislator when it comes to rhetoric and demeanor -- he's no bombastic camera mugger like say Chuck Schumer -- but he is far from a political moderate on either economic or social issues.
Yet in reporting on Republican senator John Warner (no relation) endorsing the former governor's 2014 reelection bid instead of getting behind former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie's bid for the seat, the Associated Press's Larry O'Dell described Mark Warner as a "centrist" and uncritically forwarded the meme that both Warners exemplify the sort of bipartisan collegiality that is missing in Washington today but which Americans and Virginians particularly long for (emphasis mine):
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Former Republican Sen. John W. Warner on Monday endorsed his Democratic successor over a past national GOP chairman in the race for the U.S. Senate seat he held for 30 years.
Warner told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that he is supporting Sen. Mark Warner, who is being challenged by Ed Gillespie in November's election. The Warners are not related.
John Warner, a moderate, earned a reputation as a party maverick by bucking the conservatives who gradually won control of the GOP during his decades in office. He refused to endorse GOP home-schooling advocate Mike Farris for lieutenant governor and backed an independent candidate over Iran-Contra figure Oliver North in the 1994 race against Democratic Sen. Chuck Robb. But this is the first time he has endorsed a Democrat outright.
"There are times you must, I think, recognize that certain individuals are superior in their talents and in what they have done and can potentially do for your state," John Warner said.
He praised his successor, also a centrist, for seeking bipartisan solutions.
"Mark Warner, if I may say with a sense of humility, like John Warner crosses the aisle and makes things work," he said. "We come from the old school. The Senate works best when there's collaborative effort between the two parties."
John Warner also said it's important to keep the incumbent because he's had six years to learn how the Senate works and start to build seniority.
Mark Warner said he is grateful for his former opponent's support.
"John Warner is the gold standard in Virginia," he said. "I learned a lot of things from John Warner, but the most important is Virginia always comes first."
As far as John Warner goes, he retired from Congress boasting a 79.19 lifetime ACU score, which is moderately conservative, but his final year in Congress (2008) was marked by a paltry 52 percent conservative score from the ACU and a 40 percent liberal score from the ADA, making the "moderate" tag by Mr. O'Dell rather apropos. Warner is a classic moderate, establishment Republican both in demeanor and rhetoric as well as voting patterns.