While we all are speculating about who will be the Democratic nominee for senator in 2012, I decided to pause a bit and recall my most vivid memories from the 2006 Webb campaign, a campaign that started out as a long shot, not one not at all sure of victory, but one filled with grassroots and netroots energy and optimism.
The first time I met Jim Webb was early in the campaign at a Roanoke Valley picnic. There were about 100 of us Democrats there. Jim Webb arrived in his vehicle with its camouflage paint job. As Webb stood by waiting to be introduced, I was struck by how he seemed ill at ease and concluded then and there that he was an introvert for whom such events could not be easy. However, when he took the microphone and began to talk, he readily warmed to his task, especially when he told us, with great pride in his voice, why he was wearing combat boots in honor of his son serving in Iraq.
At that same picnic I first met and chatted with Mac McGarvey, Webb’s radio operator in Vietnam who left his small business in Tennessee and came to Virginia to volunteer as Webb’s driver. Mac lost his right arm above the elbow in combat, and Webb introduced Mac to the crowd and told us about a tattoo Mac had put on that arm. It was a dotted line that had the words, “Cut along dotted line,” above it. Mac and Jim Webb had that bond that is only shared by those who have served together in combat. (Mac became Sen. Webb’s liaison for veteran’s affairs.)
Jim Webb was at his best at all the events I attended as the campaign progressed when he told us his common-sense, genuinely populist program, the reasons he wanted to be a senator. That was a textbook example of what far too few politicians do: tell voters why they should vote for him/her.
So, what are your favorite memories?