WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb launched a long-shot bid for the Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday, promising to fight the political influence of big-money interests and bring a new approach to solving problems.
Webb, 69, who represented Virginia in the U.S. Senate from 2007 to 2012, is the fifth Democrat to seek the White House in 2016. He faces a formidable challenge in overcoming front-runner Hillary Clinton.
“I understand the odds, particularly in today’s political climate where fair debate is so often drowned out by huge sums of money,” Webb said in a message on his website.
“Our country needs a fresh approach to solving the problems that confront us and too often unnecessarily divide us,” he said.
Webb, a decorated war hero who served in the Vietnam War and as Secretary of the Navy under Republican President Ronald Reagan, is known for his outspoken critiques of U.S. foreign policy and military strategy, and his support for American troops serving overseas.
He said improving national security, criminal justice reform, expanded educational opportunities and economic fairness that benefits working people will be the focuses of his presidential campaign.
Webb, who formed a presidential exploratory committee in November, has been visiting early voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire to gauge support for his bid.
But he registers in the low single digits, if at all, in opinion polls and faces an overwhelming favorite in the 2016 race in Clinton.
Other Democratic contenders are U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and former Rhode Island Governor and U.S. Senator Lincoln Chafee.
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Sandra Maler and David Gregorio)
(Caricature by DonkeyHotey)