Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb said on Tuesday he will drop his long-shot bid for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination and explore an independent run for the White House. "I'm stepping aside from the Democratic primary process," Webb told a news conference. He said he will speak with people and groups who have encouraged him to run as an independent.
There are few political careers more varied than James Webb’s. He served in Ronald Reagan’s administration — first as assistant secretary of defense for Reserve Affairs, and then as secretary of the Navy from 1984 to 1988. After leaving politics to write, he returned in 2006 as the Democratic Party’s great veteran hope: a war hero and ex-Reagan official who opposed the Iraq War and never seemed weak doing it. He upset an incumbent to take a Senate seat in Virginia, and then, six years later, at the outset of an election he likely would have won, he retired from the Senate. No reelection campaign. No talk of higher office. He just seemed finished with Washington. But in recent months, Webb has begun exploring a presidential campaign.
One of the most hyped potential candidates of the 2016 presidential campaign has clashed frequently with his party's higher-ups. He is known for his outspoken views on the surveillance state, his opposition to overseas entanglements, his warnings about the broken criminal-justice system, his desire to expand the party's tent to include voters otherwise alienated by identity politics—and for the Confederate-flag-waving supporters who'd follow him anywhere. Unfortunately for Jim Webb, I'm talking about Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
A Republican for most of his life, Webb endeared himself to Democrats when he switched parties and beat incumbent GOP Sen. George Allen in 2006 by just a few thousand votes. Webb ran that campaign on an anti-Iraq War message, touting his own experience in Vietnam, but may have been pushed across the finish line by Allen, who called a Democratic volunteer "Macaca" (an obscure North African racial slur) at a campaign event.