Former Virginia senator Jim Webb has formed an exploratory committee for a run for the Democratic presidential nomination. Webb, a much-decorated Marine in Vietnam, was President Reagan’s Secretary of the Navy. He later turned Democrat, but he has been very much a maverick. A die-hard supporter of Veterans and the Military, he is also a vehement opponent of the War in Iraq and related ventures. He is left of Hillary Clinton when it comes to Wall Street interests, but he supports the Right to Bear Arms. He is a social liberal, but he does not believe that women should serve in combat.
He is also a talented writer. The author of a number of military novels and memoirs, Webb is best known (and best explained by) his book about the ethnic group that exemplifies Southern culture and much of the American working class: Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America.
Could any of you Democrats see yourself voting for him? How about the rest of you? Do you think he would be better than Hillary Clinton?
Jim Webb, a former U.S. senator, past Navy secretary and Marine war hero, is exploring a run for the White House. The Virginia Democrat made that clear in a YouTube video released Wednesday night, highlighting his past service to the nation and saying that “there is no substitute for clear-eyed leadership.”Among veterans and service members, Webb’s potential candidacy is sure to draw attention. A two-time Purple Heart recipient, he is widely respected for his valor in Vietnam, for which he earned a Navy Cross and Silver Star in separate fights while leading a platoon of infantry Marines in 1969. In receiving those decorations, which fall just below the Medal of Honor in prestige, Webb’s résumé in combat is on par with any modern-day war hero.
Webb, a Navy secretary under President Ronald Reagan, did not mention the presumed front-runner for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton, or any of the Republicans likely to run. But he said that “with enough financial support to conduct a first-class campaign,” he can put important issues “squarely before the American people and gain their support.”
One of the places he is certain to go to for help is the veterans community. Webb speaks frequently about not only his own service but the sacrifices that others in his family have made in the military. His father was a career Air Force officer, and his son, Jimmy, served in Ramadi, Iraq, as an infantryman. Webb famously campaigned for Senate in 2006 while wearing his son’s combat boots. Webb vocally opposed the Iraq War, which rubbed some veterans and service members wrong, but his passion for those in uniform is not challenged.
As this September profile in The Washington Post pointed out, Webb would likely be running against Clinton from the left on foreign policy while advocating against more U.S. military involvement in places like Syria. But he also is a strong advocate on gun owners’ rights — which resonates with a lot of veterans — and was the primary driver of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 that expanded benefits to recent veterans.