Home National Politics Video: Jim Webb Interview in Iowa Fuels 2016 Presidential Talk

Video: Jim Webb Interview in Iowa Fuels 2016 Presidential Talk


Fascinating interview with Jim Webb by Iowa Press (yes, Webb’s in Iowa…hmmm) a bit earlier today; here are a few key quotes:

*Asked if he’s running for President in 2016, Webb says we’re in a “transitional period in the country,” that we “need to have a strong debate inside the Democratic Party and between the two parties” about where we need to go, and that “I’m curious about the political future of the Democratic Party and of our country.”

*Asked how he feels about Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, Webb says “I think there’s time to have that discussion later.” When pressed by a reporter, “Why not now?”, Webb responds, “It would probably take up the whole show.”

*Webb reiterates his three themes from 2006, emphasizes “economic fairness and social justice” and how “the stock market has almost tripled since March 2009” but “real income for workers actually has decreased in the same period.” Webb says things are not going well for working people in this country, and the “solution for that is only going to come from the Democratic Party.”

*Webb says he doesn’t believe the phrase “don’t do stupid stuff” is a fair characterization of the Obama Administration foreign policy, that “it’s a very complicated world right now,” that the “pivot” to Asia for instance was “healthy” and “good.” Webb also praises the Obama Administration for the “careful way” it’s approached the Ukraine situation.  

*Webb isn’t a fan of the administration’s Middle East policy and points his finger at Hillary Clinton. “I can’t understand why people would have supported the notion of arming certain groups inside Syria a couple of years ago…I say that not only as someone who has spent a lot of time working on foreign policy, but as a journalist in Beirut in 1983 when the word I got from Marines on the ground was: ‘Never get involved in a five-sided argument.'”

*On Iraq, Webb says “we do not belong as an occupying power in that part of the world…We opened up Pandora’s Box when we invaded Iraq…[going into Iraq] unleashed this sectarian violence.” Webb says we should be extremely careful in differentiating between terrorism and Sunni animosities towards the government in Iraq.

*”We need to realign our military based on the articulation of national strategy…where our strategic needs are.”

*Asked about not running for reelection in 2012 but putting his name out there for president in 2016, Webb says “I was raised to lead,” and that stepping away from a paralyzed Senate “doesn’t mean  that I’m stepping away from public service.”

*On Ferguson, Webb says it’s very difficult to have an “open and frank discussion.” He adds that Democrats should be “very careful about making judgements right now,” that we first need to get “all the facts on the table” about what exactly happened. Webb adds that it’s “unfortunate that the appearance anyway of sort of a militaristic presence among our members of the police is not a good signal to be sending at an emotional time.”

*When asked if he could see himself running in the Iowa caucuses, Webb responded, “I really have enjoyed the past few days I’ve been here” and laughed. He says he hopes that he’ll be coming back to Iowa frequently.

  • Elaine in Roanoke
  • pvogel

    any  politico  not from Iowa  who makes  more than one trip there  is  a candidate  for  potus.  Period

  • Ron

    He is positioning himself to be VP to someone like O’Malley or Warren (who won’t run, even though we can hope); his criticisms of Hillary, however implicit, won’t go unnoticed.

    Assuming Hillary runs and doesn’t have major unforced errors like in ’08 (no guarantee of that), I continue to believe that Mark Warner will be her VP pick. Solidifying Virginia basically eliminates any chance of the Republicans winning unless they run the table of Florida, Ohio, Iowa, and at least one of Nevada/Colorado/Pennsylvania/Michigan/Wisconsin/Nevada.

  • Another Scott

    I’m very happy that he beat Allen.  I think he did good things in helping improve relations with Vietnam.  I liked his “new GI bill of rights” work and his work on prison reform.


    I don’t see who his constituency would be among Democrats in 2016.

    He didn’t like Obama’s energy policy and opposed EPA regulation of greenhouse gases.  He wanted to end “government-directed” affirmative action.

    The environment is likely to be an increasingly important issue going forward (with or without Keystone XL).  Given what we’ve seen in the Trayvon Martin case and what’s happening now in Ferguson, MO, arguments that affirmative action is no longer needed (or is even counter-productive) aren’t going to help win elections for Democrats.

    He’s not a good fit for the important issues facing the country now.

    Webb might be great as Veterans Secretary or someone with an important Far East portfolio in the State Department.  I do not think he would be a good fit for President – especially in 2016.  And since VP is “president in waiting” I wouldn’t want to see him there.

    (I don’t think Warner would be a good person on the ticket either.  What he’s cared about (at least in almost every mailer I’ve gotten from him) is “grand bargains” and the budget deficit – issues that only served to distract people from the real issues of getting people employed again.  He usually voted the right way, but he didn’t do much to push his colleagues across the aisle to allow votes on actually useful policies.  Strategery about electoral college votes shouldn’t put us in the position of picking a bad (or at least far from optimal) candidate.)

    My $0.02.



  • Check it out.

    …Our new Zogby Analytics poll shows Mrs. Clinton comfortably leading all the Republican big names we submitted for testing. The new poll, conducted online August 13-15 among 1,223 likely voters nationwide, shows Mrs. Clinton shooting each GOP duck in a row.

    She beats former Florida Governor Jeb Bush 49% to 36%; Kentucky Senator Rand Paul 50% to 34%; New Jersey Governor Chris Christie 47% to 35%; former Massachusetts Governor and 2012 GOP standard-bearer Mitt Romney 50% to 35%; former Arkansas Governor and Fox News host Mike Huckabee 49% to 33%; and Florida Senator Marco Rubio 51% to 29%. As we can see, she hovers around the 50% mark against each challenger while none of her putative opponents receives 40%.


    Mrs. Clinton retains a solid lead over her challengers for the 2016 Democratic nomination, according to a new poll by Zogby Analytics. The new online poll, conducted nationwide among likely Democratic voters, Mrs. Clinton leads with 54%, followed distantly by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Vice-President with 10% each. Next in line is Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley with 4%, former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer and former Virginia Senator Jim Webb with 1% each, 6% selecting “other”, and 15% not sure.

  • Say What

    Nice find on the Jim Webb video and thanks for posting it. It’s also interesting reading the commentary here. I would like to pose this question to all the prognosticators on Hillary, Warner, Kaine, etc.

    Tell me, where would the party be if Hillary doesn’t run? What if she slipped on a patch of ice (or a banana, metaphorically) and hit her head (like my wife did once) … and knocked herself out? Of the race?

    She is NOT the automatic candidate select and nor should she be! The Clinton machine is flawed in many ways. Most notably by the careerist cronyism that is more common with Republicans, but certainly a big part of the baggage problem that is team Clinton.

    Over at Daily Kos, Kos himself is resigned to the fact that the nominee will be Hillary (instead of say Elizabeth Warren). And I say resigned because he has a pretty sharp eye for the ethical flaws in potential candidates…. and team Clinton isn’t very endearing … the candidate herself isn’t as “authentic” as say Senator Warren …. or for that matter Jim Webb.

    Hillary is just fleshing out her political career …. kept alive by a gracious Obama.

    I welcome Jim Webb’s involvement and take him at his word that he wants to be part of the national conversation / debate. He would be a better world leader than Hillary … and the public should have an opportunity to hear what he has to say.

    Unfortunately campaigns aren’t thoughtful discussions …. like the PBS video aired. Ergo … he has long odds on getting heard and a nomination. I hope we have a good debate season in store for 2016 … and from that… that the party gets a strong candidate and platform to run on.

    This country is still spiraling downward even if that momentum has slowed. It will take a true leader to permanently change course.  As Webb has stated, those leaders and solutions will be found in the Democratic party …. if we don’t screw things up (remember that guy John Edwards?). Talk about screwing up … and out.

    Thanks again for the video post.

  • fwdprogress

    I think the most important thing is not nitpicking how progressive someone is on a litany of issues but their approach to leadership.

    If Jim runs another passionate grassroots-focused campaign like in 2006 where he trusts his supporters he might be the best candidate for the entire party and movement. His campaign might be even more innovative than Obama’s and would be able to enable a 50-state strategy to be reinvigorated.

    In the end, Hillary is not a safe choice because her campaign skills are horrible: no message, no new media, no mobilization and no new movement-building efforts and that will put her candidacy and those of all Democrats at risk in 2016.

    What do I mean? Her book is called HARD CHOICES!

    If you had an opportunity to share your experience as a statesman/woman would you brand it as “My Job Is Complicated” or would you summarize your guiding principles and vision instead. Obama’s pre-campaign book was “Audacity of Hope” not “Tepid Pragmatism.”

    If she wins by 2 points then it will be even worse because we will be stuck with her in 2020 when we get another chance to win control of redistricting.

    Her resume is great. She is confident and polished most of the time. But she has huge weaknesses.