- The Washington Times - Friday, January 30, 2015

Former Sen. Jim Webb, Virginia Democrat and a possible candidate for president in 2016, says his party needs to return to a focus on providing people who don’t have a voice with access to those in power, including white, working-class people.

“The Democratic party could do very well by returning to its Franklin Roosevelt/Harry Truman/Andrew Jackson roots, where the focus of the party was making sure that all people who lack a voice in the corridors of power could have one through their elected representatives,” Mr. Webb told NPR.

“I think they can do a better job with white working people, and I think this last election clearly showed that,” he said. “If you look at the candidates that were getting beaten in areas where traditionally they had won — they [were] getting well less than 40 percent of the white vote.”

Mr. Webb said it was going on before President Obama was elected.

“I think that it’s true that when you look at 270 electoral votes and how to get there, there were different calculations that took place in terms of how to do that, and I believe that the Democratic party should reach out to all people, regardless of their backgrounds,” he said.

Mr. Webb, a Vietnam veteran and former secretary of the Navy under President Reagan, served a single term in the U.S. Senate before stepping down He has formed an exploratory committee as he weighs a 2016 run and has spoken and written throughout his career on his Scots-Irish ancestors’ influence on Appalachia.

“You’re not going to have a situation again where you have 96 percent of the African-American vote turning out for a presidential candidate — we need to get back to the message that was being developed, a return to the principles of the Democratic party that we are going to give everyone who needs access to the corridors of power that kind of access regardless of any of your antecedents,” he said.

“I believe that if you look at our recovery, you will see that if you hold stocks — I hold stocks — you’re doing fairly well under this recovery,” he said. “The stock market has almost tripled since April of 2009. If you are simply a typical wage-earning American, you haven’t really done that well — wages are actually flat and a little down.”

Loans to small businesses have also been down, he said.

“Those are the issues that I think need to be addressed — we have to find ways to protect working people,” he said.

If he runs for president, NPR’s Steve Inskeep said, there will be a point during the primary season where he would have to say to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, why it should be him and not her.

What’s the answer to that? Mr. Webb was asked.

“I really don’t have an answer for you on that,” he replied. “She has not announced that she’s running; I have not announced that I’m running. If I were to run, it would not be sort of as a counter-point to her. I have issues that I care about, I want to put [them] on the table, and we’ll see.”

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