Former Virginia Senator Jim Webb announced his 2016 candidacy earlier this month and has begun staking out the moderate, some would say even conservative, ground within his party. In a recent interview with NBC News, Webb lamented what he sees as the Democratic Party’s leftward tilt and says he can bring a “different tone” to the conversation.
Report from msnbc:
Democratic presidential candidate Jim Webb said his party has “moved way far to the left” and is “not my Democratic Party in and of itself” in an interview with “Fox News Sunday.”
The former Virginia senator and Navy secretary, who recently declared his presidential bid, was asked who his base is in a party that is excited by liberals like Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
“I believe we can bring a different tone to the Democratic party,” Webb told Fox News’ Bret Baier. “You’re right, the party has moved way far to the left. That’s not my Democratic Party in and of itself. We need to bring working people back into the formula.”
Webb pointed to poor whites in the Appalachia section of Southwestern Virginia who lack medical care and said, “These are people who have been forgotten by both parties and I think they need a voice.” Sanders’ surge is driven largely by college-educated whites, who were also the core support base for Warren.
The candidate, who recently caught some flack for seeming to defend Confederate flag, compared liberals’ views of Southern white culture to Donald Trump’s controversial views of Mexican immigrants, which Webb condemned.
“This kind of divisive, inflammatory rhetoric, by people who want to be commander-in-chief is not helpful. And we have seen from the liberal side as well this kind of rhetoric as it goes to Southern white cultures,” Webb said.
He called for moving beyond the conversation on the flag to more substantive issues like jobs and racial reconciliation.
Webb himself is quite far outside the mainstream Democratic Party in many respects. He’ll have a tough time appealing to voters who twice supported Barack Obama for President and are currently leaning toward people like Bernie Sanders, who is fighting to the left of Hillary Clinton politically.
If anything, with Webb on the Democratic debate stage at some point, he will let Hillary appear to be the reasonable one who is not quite as far left as Sanders or O’Malley, but is more mainstream within the party compared to Jim Webb. I’ve said from the beginning, Webb will have a tough path, if any, to the Democratic nomination in 2016.