Former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Virginia) held a somber press conference on Tuesday announcing that he would drop out of race for the 2016 Democratic nomination for president.
Standing next to his wife, a visibly defeated Webb discussed what could have been while saying he would think about launching an independent bid for the White House.
“I am withdrawing from any consideration of being the Democratic Party’s nominee for the presidency,” Webb said.
“I feel strongly that if I were nominated, that we would win. And that if I were president, I could assemble an administration filled with great minds, good leaders, and capable people from all sectors of our society,” he continued. “So I’m not going away. I’m thinking about all my options.”
Webb, who was polling at about 1% in the primary race, repeatedly blasted the current power structure of the Democratic Party for his inability to gain traction.
“I know I’m going to hear this, so let me be the first to say it: I fully accept that my views on many issues are not compatible with the power structure and the nominating base of the Democratic Party. That party is filled with millions of dedicated, hardworking Americans, but its hierarchy is not comfortable with many of the policies that I have laid forth,” he said.
Webb took a number of positions that placed him out of step with the rest of the Democratic field, including his opposition to the White House’s nuclear deal with Iran, strong support for gun rights, and defence of the Confederate battle flag after the church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, earlier this year.
“The Democratic Party has heavily invested in the notion of interest-group politics. And interest-group politics, if you’re not careful, can exclude people who also need a voice in the corridors of power,” Webb said at his Tuesday press conference.
Webb also speculated about how he could win if he were to soldier on as an independent presidential candidate.
“I know the history of independent candidacies,” he said. “They kind of top out at 20% historically. But I’ve also had some very smart political people say that because of the paralysis in our two parties, there is a time when conceivably an independent candidacy actually could win.”
He also boasted that he could defeat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, and real-estate mogul Donald Trump, the Republican front-runner, in the general election.
“If we ran an independent race that worked and got traction,” he said. “I honestly could see us beating both of them.”