How Seriously is Jim Webb "Seriously" Weighing 2016?
Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb surprised an audience this afternoon by acknowledging that he's "seriously" considering a campaign for the Democratic Party's nomination for president in 2016. That doesn't mean you should take it seriously. At least not yet. Even Webb didn't seem all that enthusiastic about the prospect of considering a campaign for the White House.
Yes, he gave a wide-ranging speech at the National Press Club -- touching on childhood poverty, wage disparities, foreign policy -- that had the feel of a national campaign speech. But asked about his national ambitions, he seemed to back into it.
"We've had a lot of discussions among people that I respect and trust about the future of the country and we are going to continue having these discussions over the next four or five months. And I am seriously looking at the possibility of running for president. But we want to see if there is a support base for people who would support the programs that we are interested in pursuing with the leadership. So the answer is, I'm a Democrat. I have strong reasons for being a Democrat. Basically if you want true fairness in society, you want to give a voice in the quarters of power to the people who other would not have it, I believe that will come from the Democratic Party. And we're taking a hard look and will get back to you in a few months."
Webb's got a strong resume. But as Bloomberg View columnist Al Hunt pointed out a few weeks ago, Webb is an improbable candidate, who has taken illiberal positions and has no serious fundraising network.
If he runs, Webb will have to offer a stark contrast with Hillary Clinton, the presumed front-runner for the party's nomination. Maybe that wasn't his plan for today -- asked to assess Clinton's strengths and weaknesses, he declined.
The Virginian's memoir, "I Heard My Country Calling," came in May. A Vietnam veteran, he's helping fellow Democrats campaign, including an August trip to Iowa, which just happens to hold the nation's first presidential nominating contest.