Jim Webb Mulls 2016 Run That Could Pose Clinton Challenge

PHOTO: Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., Nov. 13, 2012, in Washington.Chris Maddaloni/CQ-Roll Call,Inc./Getty Images
Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., Nov. 13, 2012, in Washington.

Former Virginia senator Jim Webb said today he is “seriously” considering a 2016 presidential bid, and will make a decision within the next two to five months.

“I am seriously looking at the possibility of running for president,” Webb, a Democrat, said in an appearance at the National Press Club.

“We’ve had a lot of discussions among people I respect and trust about the future of this country, and we’re going to continue to have these discussions over the next two to five months,” he said.

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Webb, 68, said he is looking for a “support base” for a potential campaign. The decorated Marine Corps veteran, who served in the Senate from 2006-2012 and as Secretary of the Navy during the Reagan administration, recently conducted a three-day, 800-mile tour of Iowa, and has plans to visit New Hampshire in October.

Webb, who largely focused on foreign policy and the economy in his speech Tuesday, is seen as an intriguing challenger to presumptive Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

He’s an unabashed economic populist who in the 2007 Democratic State of the Union rebuttal said the health of the economy shouldn’t be measured “with the numbers that come out of Wall Street, but with the living conditions that exist on Main Street.”

“True fairness is not an impossible dream,” Webb said. “Those at the top have continued to separate themselves from the rest of our society.”

Clinton, who tonight is hosting a Clinton Global Initiative dinner with Goldman Sachs, is seen by some progressives as too close to Wall Street at a time when other Democrats, like Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, have put economic inequality on the Democratic agenda.

On foreign policy, Webb is staunch opponent of U.S. interventionism, having opposed the Iraq war in 2002 and U.S. involvement in Libya in 2011.

In the Senate, Webb opposed Clinton’s proposal to arm moderate Syrian rebels against the Assad regime. Today, he referred to U.S. policy in the Middle East as a “tangled mess,” but declined to hold Clinton responsible for the region’s current state when asked to evaluate her performance as secretary of state.

“I think that’s a question that really should be directed at Secretary Clinton. I’m not here to undermine her,” he said.