But is Jim Webb?

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Yes, Virginia, There Is a Democratic Front-Runner

Albert R. Hunt is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the executive editor of Bloomberg News, before which he was a reporter, bureau chief and executive Washington editor at the Wall Street Journal.
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Senator Tim Kaine is staying with his embrace of Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, even though his fellow Virginia Democrat Jim Webb looks like he will run too.

"I am going to stick with Hillary," Kaine, also a former governor of Virginia, said in an interview for Friday's "Charlie Rose" PBS program. He said he believes the former secretary of state is "the best qualified person to be a great president."

Many Democratic politicians are jumping on the Hillary bandwagon, but Kaine is a particularly interesting example for two reasons. One, he was an important supporter of Barack Obama in 2008 when the Illinois senator defeated Clinton for the nomination. He was on the final short-list of possible Obama running mates that summer. Second, Webb was Kaine's predecessor in the Senate; Kaine won the seat in 2012 when Webb retired.

Last month, Webb launched an exploratory committee to consider running for the Democratic presidential nomination. Clinton, if she runs, would be a prohibitive favorite to get the nod, though some Democrats, including a few Clintonites, believe Webb could score political points against her. Webb is an economic populist, critical of Wall Street; she has close Wall Street ties. Webb also is a decorated Marine combat officer who is much more skeptical than Clinton about foreign interventions. 

Kaine was optimistic that Ms. Clinton would run: "I don't have any inside intelligence, but my intuition says yes."

The full interview can be seen tonight on PBS and will later be rebroadcast on Bloomberg Television.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the author on this story:
Albert R. Hunt at ahunt1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor on this story:
Tobin Harshaw at tharshaw@bloomberg.net