Jim Webb Aims for a Head Start Against Hillary
Policy + Politics

Jim Webb Aims for a Head Start Against Hillary

Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb is running for president. He’ll tell you he’s only thinking about it at this point, but these days, this is what presidential campaigns look like. They start months, even years, before a candidate shows up in front of his old elementary school, or her ancestral farmhouse for a stage managed “announcement” of their candidacy.

The former Marine and celebrated author, who served a term in the Senate as a Democrat representing Virginia and was Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan, has a new web site at www.Webb2016.com where he posted a 14-minute video laying out his preliminary case for a Webb presidency. He is soliciting donations. In other words, he’s running for president.

Related: Can Jim Webb Run for President as the Anti-Hillary?

Webb begins the video by posing a question: “Is it possible that our next president could actually lay out a vision for the country, and create an environment where leaders from both parties and from all philosophies would feel compelled to work together for the good of the country, despite all of the money and political pressure that now demands they disagree?”

Clearly, he thinks that not only is the answer “yes” but that Webb himself is the man to do it.

“True leadership makes a difference,” he said. “Results can be obtained, even in a paralyzed political environment, and in fact I believe we can un-paralyze the environment and re-establish a transparent, functioning governmental system in our country.”

Interestingly, at no point in the video does Webb affirmatively say that he would be seeking the Democratic nomination for president. An email to his exploratory committee asking for clarification produced a nearly instant response confirming that, yes, he would run as a Democrat, but in the video Webb takes great pains to separate himself from both parties. 

Related: Webb Inches Closer to Challenging Hillary Clinton

“In politics nobody owns me and I don’t owe anybody anything, except for the promise that I will work for the well-being of all Americans, and especially those who otherwise would have no voice in the corridors of power,” he said.

WHY IT MATTERS Jim Webb’s early announcement of his candidacy was unexpected, but it may be the only way for the former Virginia Senator to build up name recognition and a following before the field gets crowded with bigger-name Democratic candidates.

The announcement makes Webb the first person to publicly offer a challenge to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is currently the prohibitive favorite for the Democratic nomination. If Webb makes a serious effort, he would start at a massive disadvantage in a field likely to include others, including former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and possibly current Vice President Joe Biden. But in his run for the Senate, it was only nine months before the election when he launched the campaign that wound up unseating an incumbent former governor.

Of course, in 2006, Webb benefited from an opponent whose campaign self-destructed under the weight of numerous unforced errors, including the use of a racial slur on camera. Clinton isn’t likely to do Webb that sort of favor.

Top Reads from The Fiscal Times: