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Ex-senator Jim Webb mulling White House bid

Former Navy secretary is a Naval Academy graduate, Vietnam vet

May. 19, 2014 - 06:53PM   |  
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Hillary Rodham Clinton may have company.

Former Virginia senator Jim Webb, a Democrat, said in a radio interview Monday that he was considering whether to run for president.

“My wife and I are just thinking about what to do next, and I care a lot about where the country is and we’ll be sorting that out,” he said on “The Diane Rehm Show,” a public-affairs program syndicated nationwide on NPR. When pressed about his interest, he noted that he didn’t announce his 2006 bid for the Senate seat until nine months before the election. “It takes me a while to decide things, and I’m not going to say one way or other, really.”

But Webb went on to express concern about the direction of the country, both in national security abroad and in economic policy at home.

“The most important thing to me right now is rejoining the debate in this country on where we need to go in terms of our national interest, strategically,” he said. “I think we have become frustrated because people can’t see a clear expression of what our national security interests are ... and I think the same principle applies here at home.”

Webb, 68, is a graduate of the Naval Academy and a combat veteran of the Vietnam War, where he was awarded a Navy Cross, a Silver Star and two Purple Hearts. He served as secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration, and in 2012 decided not to seek a second term in the U.S. Senate. He has written 10 books, including a new memoir, “I Heard My Country Calling.”

In the interview, he sounded the sort of populist theme on widening wealth disparity that has drawn cheers from Democratic audiences. “We have a situation in this country where the people at the very top have moved away from everyone else in terms of how they live, how much money they make and in some cases the amount of taxes that they pay,” he said. Concerns about disappearing pensions and looming student-loan debts could be addressed “by the right kind of leadership and the right kind of policies.”

Webb was more definitive when it came to running for vice president. “It wouldn’t be a good fit for me,” he said, ruling out that prospect. “I just don’t think I’d be a very good vice president.”

USA Today reporter Susan Page was guest host of NPR’s “The Diane Rehm Show “on Monday.

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