Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) announced he will be seeking his party’s nomination for president on Thursday. The 69 year-old Vietnam veteran was the first major candidate to form an exploratory committee last November, and has since made several trips to Iowa and New Hampshire.
“I understand the odds”, Webb wrote in an open letter published on his campaign website. “I know that more than one candidate in this process intends to raise at least a billion dollars…But our country needs a fresh approach”.
Armed with a populist message which often has tinges of anti-war sentiment, Webb opposed the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, writing an op-ed in the USA Today at the time that George W. Bush had “committed the greatest strategic blunder in modern memory“.
A Marine who received the Navy Cross medal for valor after returning home from the Vietnam War, Webb served as secretary of the Navy in the Ronald Reagan Administration in the late 1980’s. Since then, the former senator has accused U.S. foreign policy of falling “adrift”, and called on the need for drawing clear guidelines for military engagement.
As senator (2007-2012), Webb spearheaded the effort to pass a G.I. bill for Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans which provided financial aid to attend college.
As far as his prospects in the 2016 primaries, Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons thinks he has a chance, albeit it a long-shot.
“Assuming he raises enough money to make a difference…if he chooses to take on Hillary Clinton on foreign policy, he could be a real thorn in her side,” Simmons said.
According to the latest Democratic voter surveys, Webb consistently polls behind Clinton, Biden, and Sanders. That order could change quickly however, as Vice-President Biden has yet to announce and likely will not seek the nomination.