Democratic Presidential Candidate Profile: Jim Webb

The Hill Talk is giving a quick rundown of each Democratic candidate after the party’s first primary debate, held October 13 in Las Vegas.

Here is our profile of former Virginia Senator and Navy Cross recipient Jim Webb.

Update 2: Jim Webb has dropped out of the Democratic nomination race, pointing out that the party’s “hierarchy is not comfortable with many of the policies I have laid forth, and frankly I’m not that comfortable with many of theirs.”

Update: Webb’s campaign sent an email to reporters Monday evening announcing the candidate will be holding a press conference Tuesday in Washington, D.C., to consider running as an independent, and “to discuss his candidacy, the campaign and his views of the political parties in the current election cycle.”

Photo courtesy Katherine Frey/Washington Post

Photo courtesy Katherine Frey/Washington Post

Quick Facts:

  • Born in Saint Joseph, MO, on February 9, 1946.
  • Graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1968.
  • Served in the Marine Corp from 1968-1972.
  • Received Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law School in 1975.

Political Experience:

  • Counsel to House Committee on Veterans Affairs (1977-1981).
  • Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs (1984).
  • Secretary of the Navy (1987-1988).
  • Elected to the U.S. Senate from Virginia in 2006; did not seek re-election after term expired in January 2013.

Positions on the issues

Healthcare:

  • Voted in favor of the Affordable Care Act in 2009, but in August 2012 said he would rather “have had a smaller, more focused package.”
  • Voted against the Ryan budget proposal in 2012, which would have transformed Medicare into a voucher program, repealed Obamacare, instituted tort reform on medical malpractice, reduced individual income tax rates, and eliminated some tax exemptions/deductions.
  • Voted for bill that would authorize the FDA regulate tobacco as a drug in 2009.

Jobs/Economy:

Budget/Taxes:

  • Supports simplifying the tax code, and cutting the corporate tax rate; advocates for raising the capital gains tax.
  • Opposed President Obama’s 2012 tax proposal raising taxes on all earned income over $250,000 per year.
  • Voted to increase the tax rate on all earned income over $1 million per year in 2008.
  • Voted against balanced budget amendment in 2011, but told the Des Moines Register editorial board in June that as President he would institute “bottom-up program reviews” for all federal agencies in order to reduce the national debt.

Climate Change:

  • Supports construction of Keystone XL pipeline; supports drilling off the coast of Virginia for oil and gas.
  • In 2011, voted to suspend EPA regulatory authority on greenhouse gases from “stationary sources” for two years.
  • In 2009, co-sponsored Clean Energy Act which called for public investment in the development of alternative energy sources.

Immigration:

  • Supports a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants; defended President Obama’s executive actions granting some illegal persons deferment status, but hasn’t committed to continuing program if elected.
  • Advocates securing the border first, then addressing illegal persons separately.
  • Voted against comprehensive immigration reform legislation in 2007 (McCain-Kennedy).
  • Voted in favor of DREAM Act in 2010, a bill granting legal status to undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

Social Issues:

  • Supports Second Amendment rights – voted ‘Yes’ to bill allowing Amtrak passengers to carry firearms in checked baggage.
  • Supports same-sex marriage, opposes constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman.
  • Pro-choice – once said, “I believe the power of the government end at my front door”.
  • Affirmative action programs should only apply to African-Americans.

Foreign Policy:

  • Opposed 2003 invasion of Iraq, saying in 2002 that “those who are pushing for a unilateral war in Iraq know full well there is no exit strategy”.
  • Opposes Iran nuclear agreement – “The end result of this could well be our acquiescence in allowing Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.”
  • Supports President Obama’s effort to lift sanctions and embargo on Cuba.
  • U.S. need a defined strategy in the Middle East – “We have not had a clear articulation of what American foreign policy is, basically since the end of the Cold War.”
  • U.S. support of the Arab Spring in Egypt was not justified – “we had no treaties at work, we had no Americans under attack or at risk.”

Relevant Scandals:

  • Resigned as Secretary of the Navy in 1988 after a disagreement with Administration officials over reducing the size of Naval forces (Webb advocated for an expansion of the fleet). Shortly after his resignation, President Regan wrote in his diary: “I don’t think Navy was sorry to see him go.”
    President Bush meeting with Sen. Webb and his son, James R. Webb, U.S. Marine. Oval Office, 2008.

    President Bush meeting with Sen. Webb and his son, James R. Webb, U.S. Marine, in Oval Office, 2008.

  • At a White House reception for newly elected Congressional members in 2006, President Bush asked Webb, whose son was deployed in Iraq as a Marine, “How’s your boy?” Webb answered, “I’d like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President.” Bush responded, “That’s not what I asked you. How’s your boy?” Webb ended the conversation there with the last word: “That’s between me and my boy, Mr. President.”  In an interview two weeks later, Webb stated: “I’m not particularly interested in having a picture of me and George W. Bush on my wall.”

Who will vote for him?

Conservative Democrats, populists, military personnel.

Currently, Sen. Webb has no field offices in either New Hampshire or Iowa. Currently polling a distant third or fourth behind Clinton and Sanders, Webb may receive an Administration position if a Democrat wins the White House in 2016.

Debate video:

On gun control

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