Jim Webb, former senator from Va., takes on his party’s hawks. And maybe
a contrarian outsider whom no one sees coming. The Democratic former senator
from Virginia has regularly unnerved members of his party by citing a GOP icon,
Ronald Reagan, as his hero. His storied unwillingness to play by the accepted
rules of modern-day campaigns has established him as one of the true political
eccentrics of the age.
Which explains why most experts severely
discount Webb’s chances of ever becoming president — and why Webb is genuinely
thinking about a White House bid in 2016.
“I’m seriously looking at the possibility of
running for president,” he said in a speech last week. “But we want to
see if there’s a support base from people who would support the programs that
we’re interested in pursuing.”
Such a base in the Democratic Party could be
hard to find in light of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s popularity and dominant
standing among Democrats. Any potential challenger to Clinton’s expected bid
for the party’s nomination would have to be regarded as a long shot, and maybe
none more so than Webb, a one-term senator who once served as secretary of the
Navy in Reagan’s administration.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll in June showed Webb with only
2 percent support among Democrats nationally, which put him
64 percentage points behind Clinton in that survey. Add to that his political
baggage, especially on women’s issues, and his chances seem even slimmer.
increasingly toward questions of U.S. military involvement abroad, Webb — a
Vietnam veteran who has carved out a profile as an antiwar warrior — may be
uniquely positioned as a disruptive force on issues where many Democrats
consider Clinton compromised.
“Remember, one of the reasons Obama did so
well in Iowa was because he said he would end the wars,” said Marcos
Rubinstein, who directed antiwar Democrat Dennis Kucinich’s 2008 presidential
campaign in Iowa. “That is why he was able to beat Clinton, and Iowa remains
full of Democrats who are looking for a peaceful message.”
In a race against Clinton, the party’s
ultimate insider, Webb, 68, would be an acerbic iconoclast who would avoid the
ways of modern presidential politics. As a lawmaker, he refused to raise money
in the traditional fashion, and he declined the social invitations and
cable-news bookings that have come to define the daily routine for many of his
In his speech last week at the National Press
Club, Webb spoke to what he believes is a sense of economic dread and war
weariness in the electorate.
“It’s rare when the economy crashes at the
same time we are at war,” he said. “The centrifugal forces of social cohesion
are spinning so out of control that the people at the very top exist in a
distant outer orbit, completely separated in their homes, schools and associations
from those of us who are even in the middle.”
But even Webb’s biggest boosters know he
faces extreme odds.
“It would be an uphill fight, almost like
climbing a wall,” former senator Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.) said in an interview. “He
would be running against someone who simultaneously has two television shows
based on her. She is a political figure with such remarkable strength ahead of
the campaign, unlike anything I’ve seen in my lifetime. The question is whether
all the minds of those who would vote at the convention are closed.”
Kerrey, who in 1992 contended for the
Democratic nomination that Bill Clinton eventually won, has been urging Webb to
challenge Hillary Clinton in 2016. Over phone calls in recent weeks, the two
friends — Kerrey is also a decorated Vietnam veteran — have concluded that
Clinton could be vulnerable. They believe Webb could win over activists in
early primary states who are uncomfortable with Clinton’s vote as a senator in 2002 to
authorize war in Iraq and her support for the strategy President Obama is
pursuing to fight the Islamic State
tremendous credibility on the issue of war and peace,” Kerrey said. And with
war raging, some Democrats may seek a dissenting spokesman to counter the
hawkish impulses that have shaped Clinton’s worldview.
Webb’s comments last week about his 2016
intentions came as he delivered a stinging rebuke of Obama’s foreign policy.
He said in an interview that his return to
public life is driven partly by a desire to pull his party away from its
current posture and to revive some skepticism about U.S. military action in the
“If you go back and look at the remarks I was
making from the time this administration got involved in the Arab Spring, I
said it was an unprecedented use of presidential power — no treaties, no
Americans attacked, no imminent threat of attack, no Americans to be rescued,”
Webb said. “Secretary Clinton and I have worked well together, but the Arab pring is a different question. . . . This administration, collectively, made some very
bad decisions, and they now have to climb out of a deep hole.”
Clinton and other senior Democrats have
mostly backed the president’s efforts. Clinton was an early proponent of
intervention, even before Obama came around.
The specter of a Clinton candidacy loomed
over the proceedings at the National Press Club, but Webb resisted criticizing
her by name. Instead, he cited disagreements he had with the Obama
administration during Clinton’s tenure at the State Department.
“I’m not here to undermine her,” Webb said
during a question-and-answer session. “I’m here to explain where my concerns
When pressed on whether his comments were
meant as a direct critique of Clinton, Webb assumed a wry smile: “As you know,
I’m a writer and I choose my words carefully. . . . This isn’t personal.”
Oddly, if he ran, the former Reagan official
would probably be challenging Clinton from the left, but he could expect sharp
disagreements with the Democratic base on numerous issues. He is, for example,
an advocate of gun owners’ rights, and last week he praised both Reagan and
Franklin D. Roosevelt for their leadership abilities.
“Some of my Democratic friends don’t like it
when I say that,” Webb said. “But Ronald Reagan was once a Democrat and still a
leader. He brought strong people around him, and he had a vision for where he
wanted to take the country.”
If he did enter the race, Webb would run as a
Democrat rather than as an independent.
“I’m a Democrat, and I have strong reasons
for being a Democrat,” he said, citing the party’s alliance with the poor and
its message of “economic fairness” as integral to his own politics.
populism in Democratic ranks, particularly at the grass-roots level, resonates
with him. That same shifting tide in the party has led some Democrats’ efforts
to draft Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), a progressive favorite, to run against Clinton.
Steve Jarding, a former political consultant
for Webb, said Webb could run a “maverick campaign” comparable to the presidential
bids of Republican John McCain in 2000 and Kerrey in 1992.
electorate for someone who can shoot straight, and Jim knows that,” Jarding
said. “I don’t think he’s intimidated by the long odds. It’s not in his makeup
to be fearful, and I think he’s putting a trial balloon out there because he is
probably going to run.”
Several influential Democrats in early
primary states said Webb could eventually gain traction should the left wing of
the party sour even more on the airstrikes in Syria and desire an aggressive,
antiwar populist to be the Democratic standard-bearer.
“I don’t know enough about him, but there is
always room for more in a presidential race,” said Iowan Jan Bauer, chair of
the Story County Democratic Party.
Bret Nilles, another Iowan and chairman of
the Linn County Democratic Party, said he met Webb in August in Cedar Rapids.
“He’s not quite as dynamic as other Democrats,” Nilles said. “If he comes here
again, he’s going to have to get an organization together.”
In October, Webb will head to New Hampshire, where he will speak at
St. Anselm College, near Manchester, and stump for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D).
A Webb campaign would start with little
national name recognition, little money and questions about his appeal. For a
party that has made improving the lives of women a central part of its pitch
this year, Webb has a controversial history of statements. Webb, who has
Confederate roots, has praised Rebel troops for their “gallantry” during the
Civil War, and in 1979 he wrote a Washingtonian magazine article questioning whether women should be on
the front lines of battle.
Democratic presidential candidates, said Webb is “intriguing” as a political
figure but would enter a race stacked against him. “I think Hillary Clinton is
going to be the nominee, and I don’t think she would run in any of the
caricatured ways it’s assumed she would run,” he said, adding that “there is
not a lot of room to take her on,” be it as a Democratic dove or otherwise.
In June, Webb began to solicit donations for
Born Fighting, his mostly dormant political action committee, and wrote a
letter to supporters about his desire to jump back into national politics.
“When I left the Senate in January, 2013, I
decided to take a full year away from all media interviews, editorial articles,
and direct political activities,” he wrote. “I am now ready to reenter the
debate, and I am asking that you consider helping me do so.”
In July, Webb gathered former aides and
supporters for a reunion in Falls Church, Va. Soon after, working with his
adviser Jessica Vanden Berg, an Iowa native, he began to map out a travel
“I had a great time in Iowa,” Webb said of
his trip there last month. “I really did. We drove about 800 miles and did 15
He would have to go much further to mount a
real challenge to Clinton.
“Secretary Clinton is the dominant figure,”
said former senator Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), a friend of Webb’s and a Clinton
supporter. “But I don’t anticipate her being unopposed.
Mr. Jim Web place the question to the Mossad,
AIPAC, those who mobilized the Republican and innocent American public and the
ZIONIST terrorist congressional lawmakers the ass hole sucker of the genocide
criminals of ZIONIST terrorist Israel under the leadership of the worst human
beings Netanyahu. This indicted assassin criminal PM Netanyahu released the
EBOLA virus to kill the innocent people of International Community of Nations
WITH EVIL MOTIVES in collusion with others.
It is they that forced all together the
simple honest sincere President to go to war that too with the permission of the own congress and the UN and not of his own
liking or willing. Absolutely unlike G W Bush going to war with Iraq on purely
lies with the help of the then PM of UK the son of a pirate dynasty's blue eyed
boy of the Pirates kingdom Monarchy which shelters genocide criminal like TONY
BLAIR and DAVID CAMRON the traitors of the country.
Now listen Mr. Web go and clean your dirty mouth and face and
learn more about these Republican ZIONIST TERRORISTS as to how it has degraded
and smeared the ever shining edifice of the great country America of ours in
front of the entire world.
Where in The ZIONIST Republican ass hole
suckers of the genocide criminal Netanyahu, threaten the UN Secretary General
and all top official of UN with their life to the fact that if they go against
The genocide criminal terrorist state of Israel and its PM the bloody world
reputed indicted Assassin Netanyahu then they be sorted out well proper about their existence.
These ZIONIST Republican lawmakers have
disgraced the country. Now Mr. JIM if you are real war veteran then first of
all finish these culprits in the congress those who all have become the enemies
of our country from living within us.. If you can finish them then come and place questions
as much as you can otherwise keep you dirty trap shut OK.