Jim Webb last night became the first "well-known" Democrat, as Politico puts it, to launch a presidential exploratory committee. The announcement came last night via a new website, Webb2016.com, and Webb (a former one-term Virginia senator, Vietnam vet, and Ronald Reagan's Navy secretary) didn't exactly hold back in explaining his motivation. The simple site features a 14-minute video and 2,100-word letter. A sampling:
- "The Democratic Party used to be the place where people … 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. We can get there again. The American Dream does survive. I see it every day in the journey of my wife Hong, who at the age of seven escaped with her extended family on a fishing boat when the Communists took over South Vietnam in 1975 … and [who] through her own determination became a graduate of Cornell Law School. Everybody deserves that opportunity."
The formation of the committee will enable Webb to begin raising money as he weighs an official run; he's the first to do so for 2016, and, as Russell Berman notes for the Atlantic, he's the "first Democrat to challenge the assumed candidacy of Hillary Clinton." Webb didn't mention her in the video or letter. Berman's take: "While he would bring experience both in foreign and domestic policy to a presidential race, he is neither widely known nor a particularly dynamic speaker, and it's unclear whether he'll be able to amass the necessary funds to mount a serious bid."