The PJ Tatler

Is Jim Webb Moving in as Clinton Gets Mired in Emails?

Could former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) see an opening in 2016 as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is on the defensive over her emails?

Webb launched his exploratory committee last November to feel out the presidential race. With other names being floated for the Democratic nomination including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, and longshot self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), he could find an opening as the moderate option for Dems.

In the 2012 National Journal rating, Webb was ranked as the 42nd most liberal member of the Senate. That put him as less liberal than former Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and slightly more liberal than Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). He was more economically conservative and socially liberal than both.

Webb’s candidacy would put a war veteran in the race. The 69-year-old served in Vietnam in the Marine Corps, was awarded several medals including the Navy Cross and two Purple Hearts, speaks fluent Vietnamese, and his current wife immigrated to the U.S. as a child after the fall of Saigon.

And now, he’s ramping up that 2016 effort, including launching a new website yesterday that stresses bipartisanship “as one who spent four years in the Reagan Administration and then served in the Senate as a Democrat.”

“We desperately need to fix our country, and to reinforce the values that have sustained us for more than two centuries, many of which have fallen by the wayside in the nasty debates of the last several years,” Webb states. “…Over the past few months thousands of concerned Americans from across the political spectrum have urged me to run for President. A constant theme runs through these requests. Americans want positive, visionary leadership that they can trust. They’re worried about the state of our economy, the fairness of our complicated multicultural society, the manner in which we are addressing foreign policy and national security challenges, and the divisive, paralyzed nature of our government itself. In short, they’re worried about the future. They want solutions, not rhetoric.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, after a slow start he’s finally making some plans to visit early primary states:

Addressing reporters in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, Mr. Webb said he and his team are still “carefully and methodically” considering whether to officially launch a presidential campaign. “I’m looking at this issue in terms of whether this is something that I can fully commit myself to, and we’re also trying to figure out if we can get the sort of financial support” needed, he said.

Next month, Mr. Webb will head to Iowa, followed by a trip to South Carolina in May and another to New Hampshire in June.

…Mr. Webb said he began “doing more media” last month and said he has seen “tremendous support” in response. “In terms of the visits, we’re a little bit behind, but in terms of putting together the structure that will allow us to make a decision, we’re right where I want to be,” he added.

Speaking at an event Tuesday sponsored by the International Association of Fire Fighters, Mr. Webb received a warm reception as he emphasized his time as a marine in Vietnam. “I suppose there are a lot of people who can say that they’ve seen firefighters fight a fire. But there aren’t very many who can say they’ve fought a fire,” he said. “When I was in the Senate, a lot of my colleagues liked to point out how many times they’d been to Iraq and Afghanistan. But watching a war isn’t the same thing as fighting a war.”

William McQuillen, the secretary-treasurer of the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire, called Mr. Webb a “fascinating guy” with an “important and powerful story to tell.”

What do you think about Webb challenging Clinton?