Jim Webb Is Running For President For Some Reason

Former Virginia Senator Jim Webb is running for President for reasons I would assume make sense to him.

Jim Webb
Former Virginia Senator Jim Webb has announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for President:

Democrat Jim Webb, the former Virginia senator, jumped into the presidential race with an email announcing his candidacy on Thursday afternoon.

“I understand the odds, particularly in today’s political climate where fair debate is so often drowned out by huge sums of money,” Webb wrote in the roughly 2,000-word email. “I know that more than one candidate in this process intends to raise at least a billion dollars – some estimates run as high as two billion dollars – in direct and indirect financial support.”

Webb is a long-shot for the nomination in a field dominated by Hillary Clinton, and which also features a surging Bernie Sanders — not to mention Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chafee. While Webb has traveled to early-voting states and begun to build a bare-bones political operation, he remains near the bottom of Democratic polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, and nationwide.

“Our country needs a fresh approach to solving the problems that confront us and too often unnecessarily divide us. We need to shake the hold of these shadow elites on our political process,” Webb wrote. “And at the same time our fellow Americans need proven, experienced leadership that can be trusted to move us forward from a new President’s first days in office. I believe I can offer both.”

The fact that Webb is announcing on the day before a long holiday weekend is, of course rather odd given the fact that he is essentially giving up any opportunity for positive news coverage that usually accompanies these announcements. Then again, there’s been a lot about Webb’s journey today that has been quite odd. He announced the formation of a Presidential Exploratory Committee back in November, long before any other Democratic President and before most Republican candidates had even started venturing onto their own crowded field. In the nearly eight months that followed, he has spent a lot of time on the ground in Iowa and New Hampshire, apparently, but he has been something of a non-entity on national news coverage to the point where he’s probably about as well known as fellow candidates Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chafee. This is evidence by his standing in the polls nationally, as well as states such as Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida, where he’s basically down at the bottom pack while Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders suck up the oxygen in the race. Most recently, he seemed to signal that he wasn’t running by becoming the only candidate or potential candidate for President in either party to defend the Confederate flag in the wake of the Charleston murders. While this was consistent with things that Webb has said in the past on the issue, it was an odd position to take at the time and one that Webb’s fellow Democrats are likely to have many questions about going forward. Add into this fact that Webb has clearly never been a fan of electoral campaigning, as evidence by how difficult it was to get him to run against George Allen in 2006 and then his decision not to run for re-election in 2012, and the idea of Jim Webb as a candidate for President is just very strange.

Perhaps there’s an opening for Webb that I’m missing. As it stands, though, the only viable route for someone running against Hilary Clinton is to campaign to her left on economic issues such as income inequality, trade, and taxation. While Webb has been hitting many of these themes on the trial in Iowa over the past months, at the moment that position is being dominated by Bernie Sanders, who announced just today that he had raised a rather impressive $15,000,000 in the FEC reporting quarter than ended on Tuesday. Just last night, Sanders drew a crowd estimated at 10,000 people to an auditorium in Madison, Wisconsin. Clearly, he’s hitting a nerve with at least some segment of the Democratic Party. Webb might have been able to do that himself had he gotten into the race sooner, but at this point it seems like the position of principal opponent to Hillary Clinton has been taken and I don’t think Webb is going to be able to take away from Sanders by himself.


FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. C. Clavin says:

    The more the better. He isn’t going to win…but he can influence the discourse…which is a good thing.
    Maybe he wants to be VP??? That’d be a heck of a ticket if they could stand each other.

  2. michael reynolds says:

    For the life of me I don’t understand why anyone would run without a chance of victory. Sixteen months of crappy motels and standing in slush shaking hands at 7 AM, living on fast food, repeating the same stump speech over and over and over.

    I can barely stand book tour and I get first class flights and minimum four-star hotels. These candidates live like animals. Why? Why would you actually want to do it? It’s prima facie proof of some kind of personality disorder. He’ll be staying in Marriott Courtyards if he’s lucky and Red Roof Inns when he’s not. Red Roof Inns, Denny’s, shaking the hands of disinterested goobers. . . It’s a vision of hell.

  3. Mr. Prosser says:

    @michael reynolds: Well, he was born fighting so maybe he sees it as a glorious lost cause, or; perhaps his Scotch-Irish heritage see this as a Calvinist pilgrimage of atonement.

  4. grumpy realist says:

    @michael reynolds: I did a lot of the Red Roof Inn stuff when traveling, mainly because it was one of the few places that accepts dogs.

    I don’t mind the cheap motels; it’s the cheap airline seats and the fast food that kills me now when traveling in the US.

    Boy do I miss Japan….

  5. SenyorDave says:

    When Webb supported the confederate flag he lost any tiny chance he might of had. I would never vote for a candidate so tone deaf that he didn’t realize he had alienated 20%+ of the base of his party (or he doesn’t care which is just as bad).

  6. gVOR08 says:

    I still think he’s going for veep, but maybe a cabinet position. On paper he’s a good ticket balancer, but he has a poor reputation as a campaigner. Maybe he thinks he can turn that reputation around. His chances seem thin, but I can’t see any other rationale.

    Or maybe like Christie, he’s just got nothing better to do.

  7. Mu says:

    He got a steal on a confederate-flag themed campaign bus. Now he’s taking it out for a ride.

  8. Moosebreath says:

    Because he has the support of all Democrats who want to preserve the Confederate flag and who oppose action to fight global warming. Both of them.

  9. dazedandconfused says:

    My vote is his to lose at the moment. Hillary is really John McCain in drag with a feminist hiring agenda. I don’t think much of Rice and Powers and many of her appointments. She supported Petreaus (and others) efforts to limit the choices presented to Obama at the decision time for Afghanistan.

    Webb? Been watching him and suspect he might be the neocon’s worst nightmare. If it becomes apparent the project to get us to flatten Iran has failed it would change the prominence of this issue a bit…but I don’t trust Hillary.

    If it turns out he’s a Kloset Klansman or something like that he will lose it, of course. Has to elaborate on the flag deal.

    Foreign policy is where a President has the most power, not in domestic stuff, and that power mis andr unwisely used has turned Iraq into a dog’s breakfast. Millions of people displaced, hundreds of thousands killed, trillions spent to turn it into that too. Hillary’s response (Obama delegated FP to her)? A bunch of R2Pers who think just like the neocons, that our legions can accomplish anything.

  10. JohnMcC says:

    Jim and I have a common cultural heritage and I bet it goes like this: I’ve considered running, talked about running, written about running. Now it looks like a really hopeless cause. So of course I have to run because giving in to the urge to avoid the pain that Michael Reynolds mentions above would make me a coward and a liar.

    I was in my 40s before I realized how much pain I’d inflicted on myself and my family because of that little embed into my brain.

  11. Grewgills says:

    Because he’s a sucker for lost causes?

  12. Ron Beasley says:

    He realized the Democrats needed a Bobby Jindal.

  13. Gromitt Gunn says:

    Oh, look, another Donkey in the mix with lower polling than Biden. Yep, that Biden – the one who isn’t running.

  14. bandit says:

    He’s not a socialist and doesn’t have a wrinkly old vag – he has no place in the Dem party

  15. An Interested Party says:

    He…doesn’t have a wrinkly old vag…

    I do so hope that your fellow travelers are as misogynistic as you are…that’ll make Hillary’s quest to be this county’s first female president that much easier…

  16. michael reynolds says:


    I really wish more people could read your comment. It’s good to see a Republican say what they really feel. More! More!

    Hillary is going to grind her heels on you people come November. It’s going to be beautiful.

  17. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    I like Webb, or used to like him. I did not like his stance on Gitmo. On the other hand, he was right about the Iraq War, and he is the worst nightmare to Warmongers on both parties.

  18. JohnMcC says:

    @An Interested Party: @michael reynolds: You both are just an example of the MSM oppressing the honest and patriotic American opinion of a humble citizen. Shame – shame. Poor ol’ bandit.

  19. Tyrell says:

    I think Webb would be okay as a vp, but would be better as a Sec. of Defense or Sec. of State. He would keep Iran and Russia in their place.
    I am more inclined to vote for a candidate for president who is a veteran, preferably one who has been in combat.

  20. Tillman says:

    @Tyrell: Preferably if he has a convincing thousand-yard stare, and seems to go quiet at odd intervals in a conversation.

  21. EddieInCA says:

    I think Webb is running for Sec. of Defense.

    He’d be a perfect fit, especially with Hillary, who has Neo-con tendencies. As an actual former soldier, Assistant Sec. of Defense, and Sec. of the Navy Webb is much more circumspect on the idea of going to war than many on Hillary’s team.

  22. ernieyeball says:

    @michael reynolds:..vision of hell.
    You have your visions , I have mine.
    Lunch at the Casey’s General Store (before they expanded their menu to 2 items) in Clarence, Missouri or the Off-the-Highway-Motel in Savanna, Illinois (hot water heaters were somewhere on the other side of the highway as it took a good 15 minutes for that brew to arrive in the shower) are a couple of Satan’s Lodges I have had the misfortune to frequent.
    I did work in Michigan. Never had to toil in Hell though.