Ex-senator joins US presidential race

Former Virginia senator Jim Webb is a decorated US Marine and war veteran.
Former Virginia senator Jim Webb is a decorated US Marine and war veteran.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WASHINGTON • Former United States senator Jim Webb of Virginia, a Vietnam war veteran who served as secretary of the navy, announced on Thursday that he is running for president, challenging front runner Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.

"After many months of thought, deliberation and discussion, I have decided to seek the office of the presidency of the United States," Mr Webb said in a Facebook post.

His campaign is a long shot by any measure, but he is counting on appealing to voters from both sides of the aisle, his opposition to the invasion of Iraq and his experience as a decorated US Marine to distinguish himself in the race.

"I understand the odds, particularly in today's political climate, where fair debate is so often drowned out by huge sums of money," he said, adding that "more than one candidate" plan to raise US$1 billion (S$1.3 billion) or more in this election cycle.

"But our country needs a fresh approach to solving the problems that confront us and too often unnecessarily divide us," he said.

"We need a president who understands leadership, who has a proven record of actual accomplishments, who can bring about bipartisan solutions, who can bring people from both sides to the table to get things done."

Mr Webb, 69, is the fifth candidate to seek the Democratic Party nomination, following Mrs Clinton, Vermont's independent Senator Bernie Sanders, former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley and former Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee.

Fifteen Republicans are officially seeking their party's nomination, including former Florida governor Jeb Bush and conservative Wisconsin governor Scott Walker.

Mr Webb, once a Republican in the swing-state of Virginia, has expressed support for gun rights, and opposition to coal plant regulations and most government programmes that broadly favour non-whites.

He narrowly won his Senate seat in 2006 and declined to run for re-election in 2012.

The author of nine books, he won an Emmy award for journalistic coverage of a 1983 bombing at a Marine barracks in Lebanon.

Mr Webb has six children and lives in Virginia with his wife, Hong Le.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2015, with the headline 'Ex-senator joins US presidential race'. Print Edition | Subscribe