US Presidential campaign 2016: Former Virginia Senator Jim Webb joins race for Democratic nomination

But the 69-year-old will be an outsider in a field boasting Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders

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The Independent US

Former Virginia Senator Jim Webb has joined the race for the Democratic party’s 2016 presidential nomination, bringing up the rear of an increasingly crowded race that already has a clear frontrunner.

Mr Webb, 69, announced his longshot candidacy on Thursday in a lengthy blog post. “After many months of thought, deliberation and discussion, I have decided to seek the office of the Presidency of the United States,” he wrote, adding: “Our country needs a fresh approach to solving the problems that confront us and too often unnecessarily divide us.”

The former Senator will be considered a minnow in a Democratic primary field that already features four other declared candidates, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Ms Clinton has a vast poll lead and unmatched fundraising resources, though Mr Sanders has been drawing large crowds from the left at his appearances in key primary states. The Republican field, meanwhile, has at least 15 presidential hopefuls.

 

Mr Webb, who was decorated as a US marine in Vietnam and served for several years in the Reagan administration as Secretary of the Navy, won his senate seat unexpectedly in 2006, in part on a platform of opposition to the Iraq War.

A conservative Democrat, he recently found himself at odds with many in his party after he authored a Facebook post about the Confederate flag, in which he called for a debate over its future that “recognises the need for change but also respects the complicated history of the Civil War.” Candidates from both major political parties have called for the flag, seen as a symbol of slavery, to be removed from outside the South Carolina statehouse in the wake of the shootings at a Charleston church last month, which left nine African-American congregants dead.

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