Meet Jim Webb: Everything You Need to Know (And Probably Didn’t Know) About The 2016 Democratic Presidential Candidate
And a few things you probably didn’t know.
By Alana Abramson
July 27, 2015, 3:33 PM
• 4 min read
July 27, 2015 -- Name: James Henry “Jim” Webb
What he used to do: A celebrated Vietnam War veteran, he was the Democratic U.S. Senator from Virginia from 2007 until 2013. He served as counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Veterans Affairs from 1977 to 1981. He also served in the Reagan administration as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs and Secretary of the Navy. Additionally, he is a published author who has written nine books. In 1983 he won an Emmy award for a report he produced during the Lebanon Civil War on PBS “NewsHour.”
Declared as a candidate: July 2, 2015. Webb took many by surprise with a tweet from his account linking to his page as a candidate with an official announcement.
In his own words: “Our elected officials need to get back to the basics of good governance and to remember that their principal obligations are to protect our national interests abroad and to ensure a level playing field here at home, especially for those who otherwise have no voice in the corridors of power.”
Family tree: Webb says he can trace his family roots back to Scots-Irish settlers who arrived in the US in the 18th century. In 2004, he wrote “Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America,” chronicling the history of Scots-Irish settlers in America; he also narrated a television version on the Smithsonian Channel. Today, he lives with his wife, attorney Hong Le Webb, in Virginia. He has six children.
Academic honors: Webb graduated from the Naval Academy in 1968 and from Georgetown University Law School in 1975. He was also first in his class of 243 at the Marine Corps Officer’s Basic School, and a 1992 fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics.
Military accolades: Webb was a rifle platoon and company commander in Vietnam. He was awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star Medal, two Bronze Star Medals, and two Purple Hearts for his service, according to his campaign website. His military service was in keeping with family tradition. His father served in World War II, and he writes on his campaign website that both sides of his family “have a strong citizen-soldier military tradition that predates the Revolutionary War.”
Claim to fame: Webb wrote the 2000 War drama, “Rules of Engagement,” starring Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson.
What sets him apart: Webb touts his opposition to the Iraq War as a method of differentiating himself from Hillary Clinton. Although Webb was not a Senator until 2007, he wrote a widely-read Washington Post op-ed in 2002 opposing a war in Iraq. His son served in the Iraq war, and Webb has talked about how he wore his son’s combat boots during his Senate campaign.
What you might not know about him: He is fluent in Vietnamese, which apparently helped him win over his wife Hong Le, who fled to the U.S. after the fall of Saigon. Hong Le Webb described in a 2006 Washington Post profile how her husband’s love of Vietnamese people and culture, as well as his knowledge of the language, impressed her.
Might have wished for a do-over: While many 2016 candidates and high profile public figures -- Democrats and Republicans -- came out strongly against flying the Confederate flag in the wake of the deadly shooting inside a Charleston, South Carolina church in June 2015, Webb’s statement was much more qualified. In a June 24, 2015 Facebook post he wrote that the flag has “wrongly been used for racist and other purposes” but that the country needs to respect “the complicated history of the Civil War.”