On Wednesday evening, one minute before midnight, former Virginia senator and secretary of the Navy Jim Webb became the first established figure to officially wade into the next race for the White House when he unveiled his 2016 presidential exploratory committee website.
The page features a 14 minute video and nearly identical letter where Webb details his biography and rationale for mounting a longshot presidential bid.
“I spent eight years on active duty in the military, four years as a committee counsel in the Congress working to help our veterans, five years in the Pentagon, one as a Marine and four as assistant secretary of defence and Secretary of the Navy. And I spent six years as a member of the United States Senate. Each time I served not with the expectation of making government a career, but to contribute to the good of the country during a period of crisis or great change,” Webb said in the clip, adding, “In that spirit I have decided to launch an Exploratory Committee to examine whether I should run for President in 2016.”
Some of the likely Republican 2016 hopefuls have begun to lay the groundwork for their campaigns, however, none of the leading candidates have debuted an official organisation. Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton said in September that she would make a decision by Jan. 1. Since then, there have been multiple reports indicating she will launch her official exploratory committee by the early part of next year.
In the video, Webb, who was a Democratic senator, touted his experience working in the Pentagon during the Reagan administration. He also vowed to take on income inequality, a core issue for many progressives.
“Walk into some of our inner cities if you dare, and see the stagnation, poverty, crime, and lack of opportunity that still affects so many African Americans. Or travel to the Appalachian Mountains, where my own ancestors settled and whose cultural values I still share, and view the poorest counties in America — who happen to be more than 90 per cent White, and who live in the reality that, ‘if you’re poor and White you’re out of sight,'” Webb said. “We cannot sit idly by and accept that such economic and power differences are permanent.”
Webb was elected to the US Senate in 2006 with a narrow upset victory over Republican incumbent George Allen. In his video, Webb cited this experience as evidence he should not be counted out of the 2016 race.
“Your early support will be crucial as I evaluate whether we might overcome what many commentators see as nearly impossible odds. We are starting with very little funding and hardly any staff, but I’ve been here before,” said Webb.
Watch Webb’s full video below.