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James Webb

James Webb

Senator, Virginia

Democrat

The Popular Vote

0 57 100 1
57%
Average Score
  • Free Market
    48%
  • National Security
    69%
  • American Exceptionalism
    34%
  • Consistency
    70%
  • Ethics
    100%
  • Principles
    87%
  • Accomplishments
    54%
  • Political Skills
    54%
  • Communication
    51%
  • Viability
    10%

James Webb

Out of the running Last modified: January 25, 2016

LPA's Final Grade: F/57(Why this Grade?)

Free Market
4
National Security
8
American Exceptionalism
4
Consistency
7
Ethics
9
Principles
8
Accomplishments
4
Political Skills
4
Communication
7
Viability
2

Leadership MatrixCandidate grading is a dynamic process and is subject to change according to ongoing evaluation using the criteria of the Leadership Matrix.

Jim Webb, a Democrat, is a former U.S. senator from Virginia who announced his candidacy for president in July of 2015. He has been described as a centrist Democrat, and his campaign is likely to appeal to those concerned the Democratic Party has drifted too far to the left and is out of touch with the values of most of the American public.

He has significant experience in defense and national security issues, including stints as an Assistant Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Navy under President Ronald Reagan. He was an outspoken critic of President George W. Bush’s Iraq policy, although it should be noted he is hardly a dove on defense matters – he fought in the Vietnam War as a lieutenant leading a combat platoon, and he still supports the Vietnam War although he is sharply critical of the strategic and policy decisions made regarding it.

Webb has a populist message that could be attractive to rural and blue-collar voters, something his party has struggled with in recent elections. He was considered one of the rising stars of the Democratic Party after his narrow win over incumbent Sen. George Allen, but his views on some cultural issues, support for the fossil fuel industry, and opposition to raising taxes on the wealthy are out of step with most of his party, which could be a problem in attracting votes during the nomination process.

Webb has relatively low name recognition entering the 2016 campaign cycle, and his general dislike of campaigning could make it difficult for him to establish himself as a viable candidate. But he is regarded as a skilled and effective speaker when motivated, and he has the ability to appeal to relatively conservative voters in the Democratic Party. The flip side is that he is likely to struggle with groups such as advocates for women’s and minority rights, environmentalists, and anti-corporate elements.

Webb has languished in the polls to date and raised relatively little money for his campaign. Because his views are somewhat out of sync with the left-leaning activists and liberal constituency groups who tend to dominate the Democratic nominating process, he is probably a long shot to win the Democratic Party nomination. He can be a passionate speaker and is a capable campaigner, however, and if he  can draw voters into the nomination process who have otherwise felt ignored by Democrats in recent years he could mount a credible campaign.

Out of the running Last modified: January 25, 2016

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In his 2006 campaign for the Senate, Webb promised not to raise taxes on ordinary earned income, although he did support raising taxes on capital gains. He stuck by this position during the 2011 debt ceiling fight, opposing higher income taxes but suggesting the capital gains rate be raised while “loopholes” be closed and subsidies eliminated or reduced. He did vote for the “fiscal cliff” deal reached by Obama and House Republicans that extended the Bush tax cuts for most Americans but raised them for high-income earners.

Webb did introduce a bill that implemented a windfall profits tax on corporations that received more than $5 billion from TARP, the Troubled Asset Relief Program signed into law in 2008 in response to the economic meltdown of U.S. financial institutions.

In a December 2014 speech, following his announcement of a presidential exploratory committee, Webb discussed tax reform and his preference to reducing corporate taxes while eliminating loopholes and increasing the capital gains tax.

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Webb voted against the Senate taking up a vote on the REINS Act, which would have required a cost/benefit analysis of new regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This was mildly surprising given Webb’s generally pro-energy voting record and the fact that Virginia is a coal-producing state.

During his Senate campaign he said he “strongly supports” network neutrality, a policy imposing significant regulation on Internet service providers’ ability to manage their networks.

Webb voted for the Dodd-Frank bill that imposed heavy regulation on financial institutions.

 

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Webb was a supporter of labor union initiatives during his term as senator. He voted for a bill that would have prohibited employers from interfering in elections to form unions. He also voted against a bill that would have stripped the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) of its collective bargaining rights. In 2009 Webb declined to say whether he would support card check legislation (effectively eliminating secret ballot elections in union organizing and campaigns) and suggested it was the wrong time to be debating the issue. He has touted the fact that as a Senate candidate in 2006, he participated in a union picket line, a first for a Virginia candidate for statewide office.

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Webb has drawn criticism from many environmental groups for his positions on climate change. Shortly after announcing his potential candidacy for president, leftist publication Mother Jones published an article titled “Jim Webb Wants to Be President. Too Bad He’s Awful on Climate Change,” while Grist, a left-wing environmental website, featured an article titled “Jim Webb sucks on climate change.”

Webb’s voting record included allowing the Keystone XL pipeline project to move forward, voting to allow offshore drilling in Virginia, and opposing the Environmental Protection Agency’s attempt to regulate carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act. Webb also opposed a budget bill that included a cap-and-trade program and reiterated his opposition to cap-and-trade in June 2015.

Webb has received a lifetime score of 81 percent from the League of Conservation Voters. He supports developing alternative energies instead of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northern Alaska.

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In a December 2014 speech, Webb indicated he believes the federal budget needs to be tightened and would want to audit every federal agency and their programs and have them re-justify each program. As president, he said he wants to work with both sides of the aisle to address national debt.

Webb voted against a balanced budget amendment and for increasing the debt ceiling, voted against a one-year moratorium on earmarks, and voted in favor of the stimulus package. He did support a budget amendment reducing non-defense discretionary appropriations by 5 percent. As a senator he inserted an earmark into federal spending to provide greater Internet access for rural areas of Virginia, and in a September 2015 interview he suggested he would favor similar spending to do the same nationally.

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He called his vote for Obamacare the hardest vote he had to take while in the Senate. He said that doing something was better than doing nothing even though there were flaws in the program and legislation. He referenced his mother’s impoverished upbringing and said she lost three siblings due to lack of medical care. In 2009, he did speak to the need for a competitive health care market and the need for competition if a public option for health care reform was passed.

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On entitlements, Webb voted against the Paul Ryan budget that included allowing Medicare recipients to choose private insurance plans. On his 2006 AARP questionnaire, Webb indicated he opposed the privatization of social security and he received the Virginia Education Association’s (Virginia’s teachers union) endorsement because of his opposition to privatizing social security (among other factors). Webb also voted against income means testing to determine Medicare Part D (prescription drugs) premiums.

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Webb supported a bilateral trade agreement between Vietnam and the United States, suggesting it was an important tool to keep Vietnam from succumbing to the Chinese. He also supported free trade agreements with Peru, Korea, Panama and Columbia. In a June 2015 interview he touted his pro-free trade record but said he was unsure whether he supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, and he said would have voted against fast-track negotiating authority for Obama.

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On immigration, Webb has supported building a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border and supports securing the border before taking steps to address the illegal immigrants in the United States.  He has said he believes Obama has the executive authority to defer deportation of illegal immigrants en masse.

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Webb has supported limiting farm subsidies to a cap of $250,000 for a married couple. He also supported a bill that would grant subsidies to part-time farmers with an average gross income that does not exceed $250,000 or full-time farmers that have a gross income that does not exceed $750,000. He voted for an amendment that would have eliminated sugar subsidies. He continues to support having a farm subsidy program, however.

He has also said he believes genetically modified organisms (GMO) in agriculture are safe and opposes GMO labeling mandates, although he does support country-of-origin labeling for meat products.

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Webb has supported limiting farm subsidies to a cap of $250,000 for a married couple. He also supported a bill that would grant subsidies to part-time farmers with an average gross income that does not exceed $250,000 or full-time farmers that have a gross income that does not exceed $750,000. He voted for an amendment that would have eliminated sugar subsidies. He continues to support having a farm subsidy program, however

Webb voted in 2012 to reauthorize funding for the Export-Import Bank, which is often considered an example of corporate welfare. Although he co-sponsored legislation and voted to end ethanol subsidies in 2010, he more recently said he favored keeping the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), a policy that requires a certain amount of ethanol, biodiesel, and other unconventional fuels be bought and blended by gasoline refiners. He has suggested flexibility may be needed with the RFS however, noting that in 2012 the policy caused feed prices for livestock producers to “skyrocket.”

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Webb voted for the Dodd-Frank bill that imposed heavy regulation on financial institutions. He also supported a bill that gave state attorney generals the authority to file lawsuits against banks in the wake of the 2008 economic meltdown.

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He was the first Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs and then Secretary of the Navy under Reagan. He resigned as Secretary of the Navy over budget cuts.

In 1979, Webb published an article essay titled “Women Can’t Fight” in the Washingtonian Magazine opposing women in combat. He did not oppose women in the military but did seem to allude to an opinion that they did not warrant admission to the national military academies as those academies were meant to train combat leaders.

While he was in the Senate, one of Webb’s signature pieces of legislation, the “Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008,” was passed and became law. This bill expanded education benefits for military veterans who served after the 9/11 attacks.

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In August 2015, Webb announced his opposition to the agreement with Iran negotiated by the Obama administration.

Early in his tenure, Webb voted in support of redeploying U.S. troops out of Iraq and against creating a timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan.  When asked about Obama’s decision to launch air attacks in Syria against ISIS, Webb said the U.S. should not become an occupying force in that country.

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While seeking a Senate seat, Webb ran on a campaign opposing the Iraq War. His opposition was largely based on a belief that strategically U.S. military assets should be focused on North Korea instead. He also opposed Obama’s decision to intervene in Libya and pushed to require congressional authorization for a president to begin a pre-emptive war with Iran. In August 2015, Webb announced his opposition to the agreement with Iran negotiated by the Obama administration.

During the course of his private sector career, Webb worked as a business consultant for companies interested in doing business in Vietnam.

Webb supported the ratification of a treaty with Russia to reduce offensive arms (the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty). He also supported Obama’s strategy of sanctions against Russia in reaction to the threats against Ukraine.

He sees China as a major threat to the U.S. and believes that the U.S. needs to intervene to keep the region stable, calling for limited trade sanctions in response to China’s claim of sovereignty over an increasing swath of international waters in the region. During the first Democratic presidential debate Webb identified cyberwarfare with China as one of the top two national security threats facing the country.

He has applauded Obama and his recent actions to begin restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba, and favors lifting the trade embargo on Cuba as well.

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With only six years as senator, Webb does not have a long voting history on matters of the judiciary. He followed his party’s line and supported the nominations of Sonia Sotomayor  and Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Webb applauded the Supreme Court’s decision in King v. Burwell (Obamacare tax credits), saying it “clarified the issue of statutory interpretation.”

Webb has been critical of the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Citizens United v. FEC, and has expressed support for a constitutional amendment to repeal the decision. He backs the court’s decision in Roe v. Wade.

Webb has indicated he is supportive of sentencing reform, something that is likely to resonate well with the African-American community. However, he may also face opposition from that same community given that he does not support affirmative action programs and believes that the original intent, implemented by President Lyndon Johnson, no longer serves its original purpose. He says it has been exploited by immigrant groups to the U.S. and now serves as a tool for discriminating against whites. His overall belief is that nondiscrimination policies should be in place for everyone, including white people.

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Webb has generally been a supporter of individual gun rights. Following an aide of his being caught accidentally bringing a loaded weapon into the Senate office building, Webb said, “I’m a strong supporter of the Second Amendment; I have had a permit to carry a weapon in Virginia for a long time; I believe that it’s important; it’s important to me personally and to a lot of people in the situation that I’m in to be able to defend myself and my family.”  He has also supported allowing people to carry their concealed weapons across state lines so long as they have the permit from their home state. He was a co-sponsor of a bill that would have overridden Washington, D.C.’s strict gun control laws.

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He has been a supporter of abortion rights, saying he supports Roe v. Wade and voting against an amendment to fund enforcement of a federal law banning transporting a minor across state lines in order to avoid state parental notification and consent laws.

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Webb was an opponent of same-sex marriage while he served in the Senate, but did not support a constitutional amendment in his home state of Virginia defining marriage as only between a man and a woman. During his 2006 campaign, Webb stated he supported civil unions. In an October 2014, interview he stated that he is comfortable with the evolution of same-sex marriage in both the courts and public opinion, and said shortly after the Supreme Court’s ruling on the issue that he was “personally pleased.”

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In 2012, Webb held up legislation that would have created a U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East to focus on persecuted religious minorities. Webb held the legislation up, saying it needed a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, that the legislation overreached, and that the State Department should be allowed to just do its job.

He said he does not believe in a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision recognizing political free-speech rights for corporations, unions, and other organizations, but does believe there should be legislation to limit those speech rights.

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Webb has defended states’ rights, most frequently through his writing. In his book Born Fighting, Webb defends the Confederacy and the soldiers who fought for it. He writes that historical revisionism has played the ancestral legacy of the Confederacy as a race card when in fact, those fighting for the Confederacy fought for states’ rights, not for the practice of slavery itself.  He has also written that the Confederate States felt they had the right to secede from the federal government under the 10th Amendment. Webb supported a bill that gave state attorney generals the authority to file lawsuits against banks in the wake of the 2008 economic meltdown.

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In 2006, the Virginia Education Association (Virginia’s teachers’ union) endorsed Jim Webb because of his opposition to school vouchers. He has stated publicly that he supports the goals laid out by No Child Left Behind but feels that more federal funding is needed to achieve the goals laid out by the legislation. While in office, he voted against a motion that would prohibit the implementation of the Common Core standards.

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In his 2006 campaign for the Senate, Webb promised not to raise taxes on ordinary earned income, although he did support raising taxes on capital gains. He stuck by this position during the 2011 debt ceiling fight, opposing higher income taxes but suggesting the capital gains rate be raised while “loopholes” be closed and subsidies eliminated or reduced. He did vote for the “fiscal cliff” deal reached by Obama and House Republicans that extended the Bush tax cuts for most Americans but raised them for high-income earners.

Webb did introduce a bill that implemented a windfall profits tax on corporations that received more than $5 billion from TARP, the Troubled Asset Relief Program signed into law in 2008 in response to the economic meltdown of U.S. financial institutions.

In a December 2014 speech, following his announcement of a presidential exploratory committee, Webb discussed tax reform and his preference to reducing corporate taxes while eliminating loopholes and increasing the capital gains tax.

Webb was a supporter of labor union initiatives during his term as senator. He voted for a bill that would have prohibited employers from interfering in elections to form unions. He also voted against a bill that would have stripped the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) of its collective bargaining rights. In 2009 Webb declined to say whether he would support card check legislation (effectively eliminating secret ballot elections in union organizing and campaigns) and suggested it was the wrong time to be debating the issue. He has touted the fact that as a Senate candidate in 2006, he participated in a union picket line, a first for a Virginia candidate for statewide office.

Webb voted against the Senate taking up a vote on the REINS Act, which would have required a cost/benefit analysis of new regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This was mildly surprising given Webb’s generally pro-energy voting record and the fact that Virginia is a coal-producing state. He has shown concern about EPA regulations that impose substantial burdens on private property owners for minimal benefits, singling out for criticism clean water rules by the EPA that he feels are excessive.

During his Senate campaign he said he “strongly supports” network neutrality, a policy imposing significant regulation on Internet service providers’ ability to manage their networks, and he reiterated his support for the policy in a September 2015 interview.

Webb has drawn criticism from many environmental groups for his positions on climate change. Shortly after announcing his potential candidacy for president, leftist publication Mother Jones published an article titled “Jim Webb Wants to Be President. Too Bad He’s Awful on Climate Change,” while Grist, a left-wing environmental website, featured an article titled “Jim Webb sucks on climate change.”

Webb’s voting record included allowing the Keystone XL pipeline project to move forward, voting to allow offshore drilling in Virginia, and opposing the Environmental Protection Agency’s attempt to regulate carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act. Webb also opposed a budget bill that included a cap-and-trade program and reiterated his opposition to cap-and-trade in June 2015. He is an advocate of nuclear power.

Webb has received a lifetime score of 81 percent from the League of Conservation Voters. He supports developing alternative energies instead of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northern Alaska.

In a December 2014 speech, Webb indicated he believes the federal budget needs to be tightened and would want to audit every federal agency and their programs and have them re-justify each program. As president, he said he wants to work with both sides of the aisle to address national debt.

Webb voted against a balanced budget amendment and for increasing the debt ceiling, voted against a one-year moratorium on earmarks, and voted in favor of the stimulus package. He did support a budget amendment reducing non-defense discretionary appropriations by 5 percent.

As a senator he inserted an earmark into federal spending to provide greater Internet access for rural areas of Virginia, and in a September 2015 interview he suggested he would favor similar spending to do the same nationally.

On entitlements, Webb voted against the Paul Ryan budget that included allowing Medicare recipients to choose private insurance plans. On his 2006 AARP questionnaire, Webb indicated he opposed the privatization of Social Security, and he received the Virginia Education Association’s (Virginia’s teachers union) endorsement because of his opposition to privatizing Social Security (among other factors). Webb also voted against income means testing to determine Medicare Part D (prescription drugs) premiums.

He called his vote for Obamacare the hardest vote he had to take while in the Senate. He said that doing something was better than doing nothing even though there were flaws in the program and legislation. He referenced his mother’s impoverished upbringing and said she lost three siblings due to lack of medical care. In 2009, he did speak to the need for a competitive health care market and the need for competition if a public option for health care reform was passed.

Webb supported a bilateral trade agreement between Vietnam and the United States, suggesting it was an important tool to keep Vietnam from succumbing to the Chinese. He also supported free trade agreements with Peru, Korea, Panama and Columbia. In a June 2015 interview he touted his pro-free trade record but said he was unsure whether he supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, and he said would have voted against fast-track negotiating authority for Obama.

On immigration, Webb has supported building a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border and supports securing the border before taking steps to address the illegal immigrants in the United States.  He has said he believes Obama has the executive authority to defer deportation of illegal immigrants en masse.

Webb has supported limiting farm subsidies to a cap of $250,000 for a married couple. He also supported a bill that would grant subsidies to part-time farmers with an average gross income that does not exceed $250,000 or full-time farmers that have a gross income that does not exceed $750,000. He voted for an amendment that would have eliminated sugar subsidies. He continues to support having a farm subsidy program, however.

He has also said he believes genetically modified organisms (GMO) in agriculture are safe and opposes GMO labeling mandates, although he does support country-of-origin labeling for meat products. Webb voted in 2012 to reauthorize funding for the Export-Import Bank, which is often considered an example of corporate welfare.

Although he co-sponsored legislation and voted to end ethanol subsidies in 2010, he more recently said he favored keeping the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), a policy that requires a certain amount of ethanol, biodiesel, and other unconventional fuels be bought and blended by gasoline refiners. He has suggested flexibility may be needed with the RFS however, noting that in 2012 the policy caused feed prices for livestock producers to “skyrocket.”

Webb voted for the Dodd-Frank bill that imposed heavy regulation on financial institutions.

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Webb has an extensive background in military and national defense policy. He served as a platoon leader and was wounded in combat in Vietnam, and he later worked for the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. He was the first Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs and then Secretary of the Navy under Reagan. He resigned as Secretary of the Navy over budget cuts.

In June 2015 Webb delivered a speech at George Mason University on his foreign policy approach, which the Washington Free Beacon summarized as “the need for the United States to state its national security objectives clearly, to develop relationships with allies it can trust, to work with countries that are not hostile to its citizens, to honor its treaty agreements, to maintain superiority in strategic systems and technology, and to preserve and exercise the national right of self-defense overseas.”

In 1979, Webb published an article essay titled “Women Can’t Fight” in the Washingtonian Magazine opposing women in combat. He did not oppose women in the military but did seem to allude to an opinion that they did not warrant admission to the national military academies as those academies were meant to train combat leaders.

While he was in the Senate, one of Webb’s signature pieces of legislation, the “Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008,” was passed and became law. This bill expanded education benefits for military veterans who served after the 9/11 attacks.

While seeking a Senate seat, Webb ran on a campaign opposing the Iraq War. His opposition was largely based on a belief that strategically U.S. military assets should be focused on North Korea instead. He also opposed Obama’s decision to intervene in Libya and pushed to require congressional authorization for a president to begin a pre-emptive war with Iran. In August 2015, Webb announced his opposition to the agreement with Iran negotiated by the Obama administration.

Early in his tenure, Webb voted in support of redeploying U.S. troops out of Iraq and against creating a timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan.  When asked about Obama’s decision to launch air attacks in Syria against ISIS, Webb said the U.S. should not become an occupying force in that country.

During the course of his private sector career, Webb worked as a business consultant for companies interested in doing business in Vietnam.

Webb supported the ratification of a treaty with Russia to reduce offensive arms (the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty). He also supported Obama’s strategy of sanctions against Russia in reaction to the threats against Ukraine.

He sees China as a major threat to the U.S. and believes that the U.S. needs to intervene to keep the region stable, calling for limited trade sanctions in response to China’s claim of sovereignty over an increasing swath of international waters in the region. During the first Democratic presidential debate Webb identified cyberwarfare with China as one of the top two national security threats facing the country.

He has applauded Obama and his recent actions to begin restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba, and favors lifting the trade embargo on Cuba as well.

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Speaking to a Democratic group in April 2015, Webb recounted his own life as an example of American exceptionalism (more frequently terming it the “American dream”), saying, “We need to remember that the American dream is a unique thing in this world. When people say you shouldn’t talk about American exceptionalism… I think the American dream is unique. That is why people are trying to come here. I have lived the American dream. I was able to get scholarships to go to school, able to serve my country, I have had a great experience in my life. I will tell you who has lived the American dream, my wife. My wife was born in Vietnam. Her family escaped Vietnam when the communists took over…she went to Arkansas. Her family settled in New Orleans. Her family never mastered [the English] language. She was 11, and [got] a scholarship to Michigan, ended up at Cornell law. That is the American dream.”

With only six years as senator, Webb does not have a long voting history on matters of the judiciary. He followed his party’s line and supported the nominations of Sonia Sotomayor  and Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Webb applauded the Supreme Court’s decision in King v. Burwell (Obamacare tax credits), saying it “clarified the issue of statutory interpretation.”

Webb has been critical of the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Citizens United v. FEC, and has expressed support for a constitutional amendment to repeal the decision. He backs the court’s decision in Roe v. Wade.

In 2012, Webb held up legislation that would have created a U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East to focus on persecuted religious minorities. Webb held the legislation up, saying it needed a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, that the legislation overreached, and that the State Department should be allowed to just do its job.

Webb has defended states’ rights, most frequently through his writing. In his book Born Fighting, Webb defends the Confederacy and the soldiers who fought for it. He writes that historical revisionism has played the ancestral legacy of the Confederacy as a race card when in fact, those fighting for the Confederacy fought for states’ rights, not for the practice of slavery itself.  He has also written that the Confederate States felt they had the right to secede from the federal government under the 10th Amendment. Webb supported a bill that gave state attorney generals the authority to file lawsuits against banks in the wake of the 2008 economic meltdown.

In 2006, the Virginia Education Association (Virginia’s teachers’ union) endorsed Jim Webb because of his opposition to school vouchers. He has stated publicly that he supports the goals laid out by No Child Left Behind but feels that more federal funding is needed to achieve the goals laid out by the legislation. While in office, he voted against a motion that would prohibit the implementation of the Common Core standards.

Webb has indicated he is supportive of sentencing reform, something that is likely to resonate well with the African-American community. However, he may also face opposition from that same community given that he does not support affirmative action programs and believes that the original intent, implemented by President Lyndon Johnson, no longer serves its original purpose. He says it has been exploited by immigrant groups to the U.S. and now serves as a tool for discriminating against whites. His overall belief is that nondiscrimination policies should be in place for everyone, including white people.

He said he does not believe in a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision recognizing political free-speech rights for corporations, unions, and other organizations, but does believe there should be legislation to limit those speech rights.

Webb has generally been a supporter of individual gun rights. Following an aide of his being caught accidentally bringing a loaded weapon into the Senate office building, Webb said, “I’m a strong supporter of the Second Amendment; I have had a permit to carry a weapon in Virginia for a long time; I believe that it’s important; it’s important to me personally and to a lot of people in the situation that I’m in to be able to defend myself and my family.”  He has also supported allowing people to carry their concealed weapons across state lines so long as they have the permit from their home state. He was a co-sponsor of a bill that would have overridden Washington, D.C.’s strict gun control laws.

He has been a supporter of abortion rights, saying he supports Roe v. Wade and voting against an amendment to fund enforcement of a federal law banning transporting a minor across state lines in order to avoid state parental notification and consent laws.

Webb was an opponent of same-sex marriage while he served in the Senate, but did not support a constitutional amendment in his home state of Virginia defining marriage as only between a man and a woman. During his 2006 campaign, Webb stated he supported civil unions. In an October 2014, interview he stated that he is comfortable with the evolution of same-sex marriage in both the courts and public opinion, and said shortly after the Supreme Court’s ruling on the issue that he was “personally pleased.”

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In his 2006 campaign against incumbent Sen. George Allen, Webb’s key platform issue was his opposition to the Iraq war. During his single term in the U.S. Senate, Webb stuck to that platform issue and in March 2007 voted in favor of moving troops out of Iraq. He also opposed U.S. action in Libya.

Webb promised not to raise taxes on ordinary earned income, although he did support raising taxes on capital gains. He largely kept this promise through his support of extending the Bush tax cuts, although he did support Obamacare, which included tax hikes on earned income.

 

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Webb has been criticized over his political action committee: It paid both his wife and daughter for services provided to it and spent relatively little to support other candidates.

As a senator, Webb sponsored and passed a private bill that allowed a Japanese citizen and her son to gain permanent residency in the United States after her husband (her son’s father) was killed in Iraq. Private bills are generally frowned upon because they only serve a single purpose or person and can be considered favoritism. However, in the case of the “relief for Hota Nakama Ferschke” bill, Webb was not the only supporter for this military widow’s cause and it allowed her to raise her son in the United States, a request of her husband before his death in Iraq.

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In 1988, Webb resigned as the Secretary of the Navy under President Reagan when he disagreed with budget cuts.

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Webb has received many commendations throughout his career. He earned the Superintendent’s Letter for Outstanding Leadership upon graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy and the Horan Award for excellence in legal writing while at Georgetown University Law School.

During his tour in Vietnam, he received the Navy Cross, the Silver Star Medal, two Bronze Star Medals, and two Purple Hearts.

As a U.S. senator, Webb served as Chair of the Senate Foreign Relation’s subcommittee on East Asia and Pacific Affairs. He also served on the Senate Committee on Armed Services as the chairman of the Personnel Subcommittee and as a member of the Senate Veterans’ Committee and the Joint Economic Committee.

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Webb is not known for enjoying campaigns and politicking. According to National Journal, Webb “hated the chore of campaigning, the main reason that he left the Senate after serving only one term,” while The Daily Beast wrote that the “2006 Webb campaign had the feel of a forced march, a mood that very much reflected the candidate himself. His public appearances had all the spontaneous joy of a line inspection at Camp Lejeune. … He possessed none of the innate muscle memory of a natural pol—the ready banter, the easy saunter, the reflexive hand-to-shoulder intimacy.”

Webb has only a single election under his belt, one that he barely won after his opponent, the incumbent senator, was caught on video apparently using an ethnic slur. His election was also buoyed by a “wave” election in favor of Democrats across the country. This leads to some doubt about his campaigning abilities.

Despite being the junior senator from Virginia and a first-term senator, Webb was able to pass legislation, including a private bill – not a typical accomplishment for new members in Congress. His biggest legislative accomplishment was passage of a new GI Bill updating and expanding the post-World War II era program.

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In 2007, Webb delivered the Democrats’ rebuttal to Bush’s State of the Union speech. Commentary from media following the rebuttal included claims that “a star was born” and that the speech was “eloquent; and it was forceful.” Another description of Webb’s speaking ability said, “He is known to speak from the heart and the mind and he’s got considerable voltage in both areas.” Webb has written 10 books.

Webb’s appearance in the first Democratic presidential debate did little to remind anyone of his 2007 State of the Union response. He was widely viewed as a “loser” of the debate, spending time arguing with the moderator over how much speaking time he had been allocated and “meandered” through his responses according to one pundit.

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Webb may be vulnerable to the criticism that he just “quits” whenever he disagrees with the direction others have taken. He quit as Secretary of the Navy during the Reagan administration because he disagreed with budget cuts. He declined to run for re-election to the Senate in 2012 because he was dissatisfied with the Obama presidency and the Democratic Party.

There has been some dust up over Webb’s PAC – Born Fighting PAC – and its payment of nearly $100,000 to his wife and daughter after he left the Senate in 2012. The PAC ceased political activity and stopped donating to political candidates as of October 2010 but is still accepting donations. The payments to his daughter and wife were noted to be for “website services and website consulting services.”

His switch of party affiliation could also be a problem for Webb as a candidate. While it didn’t seem to hurt him in the Virginia contest for senator, it could become one on the national political stage, particularly if he becomes a viable challenger to the frontrunners.

He already realized some problems during his 2006 election associated with his 1979 article published in the Washingtonian Magazine regarding his opposition to women in combat. A group of female Naval Academy graduates publicly stated their opposition to Webb in the 2006 campaign.

 

 

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Jim Webb receives higher-than-usual marks as a Democrat on national security but low marks for free markets, American exceptionalism, and accomplishments.

Webb’s strengths are his positions on national security issues, principles and ethics, and communication skills. He scored higher than all of the Democratic candidates and even a few of the Republican candidates because of his moderate to conservative views in many cases, including opposing cap-and-trade and supporting the Keystone XL pipeline.

However, he is relatively inexperienced in campaigning and may not be able to handle a national presidential campaign. He also received a lower score on free markets because of his support for legislation including Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, and renewing the Export-Import Bank. Overall, Webb is principled in many ways and stronger on national security issues, but his support for Common Core and other left-leaning policies, along with his votes for liberal judges, reflects how he would lead and appoint as president.

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While Webb struggles to raise funds in Democratic enclaves, his middle-of-the-road conservatism is what ultimately dooms his campaign. Webb is simply too conservative for today’s Democratic Party.

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