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Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb opens presidential exploratory committee

Virginian is the first Democrat to make a move toward a nomination fight with Hillary Clinton

By Rich Shumate, editor

virginia mugBURKE, Virginia (CFP) — Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb has launched an exploratory committee for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination — a race that’s expected to be dominated by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb

Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb

“We desperately need to fix our country and to reinforce the values that have sustained us, many of which have fallen by the wayside in the nasty debates of the last several years,” Webb said in an open letter published on his committee’s website.

“I look forward to listening and talking with more people in the coming months as I decide whether or not to run.”

Webb is the first Southerner in either party to make a move toward a presidential bid. However, at least six Southern Republicans are considering running, including U.S. Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida; Governors Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Rick Perry of Texas; and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Webb, 68, served as a Marine combat officer in Vietnam and was navy secretary during the Reagan administration. In 2006, he ran for the U.S. Senate and rode that year’s Democratic wave to a victory incumbent GOP U.S. Senator George Allen, which gave Democrats control over the upper chamber.

However, he opted not to seek re-election in 2012 after serving a single term.

While Webb was considered a Democratic moderate in the Senate, his exploratory committee announcement hinted that he may be planning to run against Clinton as an economic populist, noting that “the disparities between those at the very top and the rest of our society have only grown larger since the economic crash of late 2008 and early 2009.”

Webb also acknowledged that he faces “what many commentators see as nearly impossible odds” in securing the Democratic nomination.

“We are starting with very little funding and no full-time staff, but I’ve been here before,” he said. “In February 2006, I announced for the Senate only nine months before the election against an entrenched incumbent. We had no money and no staff. We were more than 30 points behind in the polls.”

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