The Cable

Jim Webb Drops Democratic Bid for the Presidency to Consider an Independent One

Jim Webb considers an independent run at the White House after a failed Democratic bid.

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Jim Webb served as secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan as a Republican. He served one term in the Senate as a Democrat. Now, after his 2016 presidential bid fell short as a Democrat, he’s considering an independent run at the White House.

At a Tuesday press conference in Washington, Webb acknowledged his failure to gain traction — right now, he’s polling at just 1 percent in the latest ABC News/Washington Post tally. He blamed the leaders of the Democratic Party for his lack of popularity, saying it was too focused on promoting frontrunners and hung up on his more conservative positions on issues like gun control and affirmative action, which are at odds with others in the Democratic field.  

“The hierarchy is not comfortable with many of the policies that I have laid forth, and frankly, I am not comfortable with theirs,” he said.

Webb’s frustration with Democrats was on display during the recent debate. He repeatedly complained he was not given time to answer questions — presumably because the CNN spotlight was too focused on Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

On Tuesday, Webb didn’t hide his disdain for his adopted Democratic party. But he also skewered America’s overwhelmingly two-party political system as overly divisive, and took aim at nearly all aspects of it.

“Americans are disgusted by all this talk of Republicans and Democrats calling each other the enemy,” Webb said. Then, acknowledging his time fighting in Vietnam, for which he received the Navy Cross, he said, “I know what an enemy really is through hard, personal combat,” echoing comments he made during the Oct. 13 debate, when he said his greatest enemy is the “soldier that threw the grenade that wounded me, but he’s not around right now to talk to.”

During that same debate, Webb was the most hawkish candidate on China’s military build-up in the South China Sea; President Barack Obama is currently considering a more muscular presence there. He also called out Beijing for its ongoing cyber war campaign against the United States.

“On the elected authoritarian government of China, you do not own the South China sea. You do not have the right to conduct cyber warfare against tens of millions of American citizens and in a Webb administration, we will do something about that,” Webb said.

On Tuesday, Webb said the presidency has become too powerful. He dismissed Congress as “irrelevant.” He said Wall Street is caring “less and less about the status of American workers.” The political process is “jammed up. It needs an honest broker who understands all sides.”

He also said his difficulties raising money — according to Inside Gov, Webb has garnered $717,549, compared to more than $100 million that Clinton has raised — and his lack of support were due to constraints from operating as a Democrat. He suggested he will spending the coming weeks trying to gauge the viability of an independent campaign.

“More people in this country called themselves independents than Republicans and Democrats,” he said. “Our country is more important than a label.”

“We intend to spend the next couple of weeks talking to people,” he added. “People I have not felt comfortable talking with as a Democratic candidate, but a number of people who have reached out over the past year who have encouraged me to run.”

Photo Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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