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Former senator Jim Webb forms exploratory committee for White House bid

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Posted at 7:43 AM, Nov 20, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-20 07:43:01-05


WASHINGTON (CNN) — Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb became the first person from either major party to officially launch a presidential exploratory committee to consider running for president in 2016.

Webb announced the exploratory committee Wednesday in a 14-minute online video in which he touts his military background and explains his motivations for considering a White House bid. Webb, a Democrat, would seek the Democratic nomination for President, likely facing off against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is widely expected to announce her candidacy in the coming months.

“We desperately need to fix our country and to reinforce the values that have sustained us for more than two centuries, many of which have fallen by the wayside in the nasty debates of the last several years,” Webb explains in the video.

Webb, a Marine Corps veteran who fought in Vietnam, served one term as a Democratic senator from Virginia, but also served in Republican President Ronald Reagan’s administration as assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs before becoming Secretary of the Navy.

Webb stresses in his announcement that he is “not a career politician” though he has “proudly spent several periods in government.”

Webb spends much of the video discussing his and his family’s military background. His father served 26 years in the Air Force and he, his brother and his son all joined the Marine Corps.

“I fought on one of the Vietnam War’s harshest battlefields,” Webb says in the video.

Webb also taps into the public’s frustration with “divisive, paralyzed nature of our government” and hits on popular Democratic themes like poverty and income inequality, signaling that the Democratic Party needs to head in a new direction to help the poor.

“The Democratic Party used to be the place where people like these could come not for a handout but for an honest handshake, good full-time jobs, quality education, health care they can afford, and the vital, overriding belief that we’re all in this together and the system is not rigged,” Webb says. “We can get there again.”

Launching an exploratory committee is the first step candidates take before formally announcing their candidacy for president and allows them to begin raising funds for an eventual campaign.

Webb also seems mindful that he would be an underdog heading into Democratic primaries — especially if Clinton decides to run — but notes that he won his Senate seat in Virginia despite having “no money and no staff” when he announced his candidacy and being “more than 30 points behind in the polls.”