Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb (D-Virginia) is the first one in the 2016 presidential pool by officially forming a presidential exploratory committee. This committee, while not a formal declaration of his candidacy, indicates Webb will begin looking for funding sources and indicate that he is in fact serious about the possibility of a run for the Democratic nomination in 2016.
Webb released a video via his Twitter account yesterday explaining his decision and laying out a platform for his possible campaign:
Report from the Post-Standard:
Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb launched an exploratory committee to consider a Democratic presidential campaign in 2016, taking the first official step in what could become a challenge to Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Webb announced the exploratory committee in a message posted from his Twitter account late Wednesday, making him the first candidate of either of the two major political parties to take the initial official step for the White House.
“A strong majority of Americans agree that we are at a serious crossroads,” Webb wrote in a message posted to a website for his committee along with a 14-minute video address. “In my view the solutions are not simply political, but those of leadership. I learned long ago on the battlefields of Vietnam that in a crisis, there is no substitute for clear-eyed leadership.”
The former Virginia senator has hinted at a possible presidential campaign for months and made campaign appearances this fall with Democrats in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire. But he would be considered a longshot against Clinton, who will be the leading Democratic candidate for president if she seeks the White House again.
As noted, Webb doesn’t have near the name recognition or national network when compared to Hillary Clinton but he does have some major assets. As a largely centrist Senator from Virginia, an important swing state which is trending blue, Webb brings a personality and set of beliefs which would play well in the South. For starters, Webb is largely pro-gun, a view which sets him aside from the vast majority of his Democratic colleagues.
If I had to put money down, I’d say this exploratory committee might be serving him well as the beginning of a campaign for the Vice Presidential slot if Hillary Clinton becomes the nominee. While I believe Webb is sincere in his quest, I’m not sure he could play well in the early primary states since many of his views are more center or center-left than those of the Democratic base.