Jim Webb 2016 Presidential candidate

Photo courtesy of Jim Webb for President

Democrat Jim Webb Joins 2016 Contest
| published July 3, 2015 |

By Thursday Review staff

The Republican race for President may yet set an all-time record for its crowded nature, but among Democrats the field is getting busy as well.

Former Virginia U.S. Senator Jim Webb announced this week that he will seek the Democratic nomination for President, making him the fifth Democrat to challenge front-runner Hillary Clinton. Many political watchers have had their eye on Webb for two years, but after the former Senator formed an exploratory committee last fall, most analysts guessed it would be only a matter of time before Webb made it official.

Webb admits that money will be an issue. Clinton, a former U.S. Senator and former Secretary of State has been raising cash at an unprecedented rate, outstripping her Republican opponents—including GOP fundraising leader Jeb Bush—and approaching the point where she will raise more cash than previous candidates Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. By some estimates, Clinton may raise as much as $1 billion by the start of the primary and caucus season next winter.

But Webb also hopes that he can carry a message to voters that Presidential elections should not be only about the piles of money and the big spenders.

Webb is a former military man—a Marine who became a company commander and later, after military service, became Assistant Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Navy. Webb is also an author and journalist, and someone who taught writing and communication to Naval Academy students. He served in the Senate from 2007-2012. After 2012, Webb was viewed as one of several possible dark horse challengers to what was already assumed to be Hillary Clinton’s inevitable run for President in 2016.

Webb joins several other Democrats in challenging Clinton, including U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, and former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chaffee. Webb hopes to distinguish himself from Sanders, Chaffee and O’Malley by placing himself decidedly in a centrist-to-moderate position on the Democratic Party spectrum. As a former military commander, Naval and Marine instructor, a decorated Vietnam veteran, and a high ranking Pentagon chief, Webb can claim almost as much practical policy experience as Clinton. Webb can also cut into the largely untapped need for Democrats to find some form of outreach in the south, something unlikely to happen if by chance Democrats nominate the self-described socialist Sanders or the unvarnished liberal Chaffee.

Though not conservative by te traditional definition, Webb would still enter the Democratic field somewhere slightly to Clinton’s right on many issues, decidedly to her right on others. For example: Webb supports the right of private citizens to purchase and own guns. Conversely, though he is considered a hawk on military and defense issues, he says he is in fact cautious and selective about what circumstances would require the United States to go to war. He has said many times he did not support the war in Iraq. He has also said it would have been a mistake for the U.S. to have intervened in places like Libya and Syria at the start of the Arab Spring.

Webb distinguished himself during Vietnam by earning the Navy Cross, the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and two Purple Hearts. And among Democrats, Webb is easily the most versed on military matters and defense issues.

On the Republican side, there are at least 12 major candidates now seeking the GOP nomination. Among them are former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, former New York Governor George Pataki, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, and Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

Related Thursday Review articles:

Bobby Jindal Enters GOP Contest; R. Alan Clanton; Thursday Review; June 25, 2015.

Jeb Bush Kicks Off Presidential Campaign; R. Alan Clanton; Thursday Review; June 15, 2015.