- The Washington Times - Friday, May 1, 2015

Former Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia, who is weighing a presidential run on the Democratic side, said advisers told him it would be “political suicide” to pursue criminal justice reform, which was a key issue for him during his single term in the U.S. Senate from 2007-2013.

People “want to see a track record,” Mr. Webb said Friday on CNN.

“For example — criminal justice reform. I was by myself when I first started talking about criminal justice reform. I was warned by Democratic political advisers that I was committing political suicide,” he said. “Now, it’s out of the shadows into the debate where we can fix it.”

In an address this week, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential frontrunner, called for a sweeping overhaul to criminal justice reform as the Baltimore riots once again pushed the issue to the forefront.

“Can you lead? Can you show that you got a consistent record and can you get things done? That’s what people are looking for,” Mr. Webb said. “We’re talking about issues like Baltimore, criminal justice reform — we put ourselves on the line. We took the hits, and we did it. We didn’t wait until all of a sudden now it’s easy to talk about the issue … and that’s what I’ve always done in any leadership position that I’ve had.”

Mr. Webb said that polling numbers — which show Mrs. Clinton with an overwhelming advantage in the race for the Democratic nomination — are basically “name ID” right now and that he’s gotten good responses from people like independents, “old-style, Truman-Roosevelt type of Democrats” who want to see the party come back to the base of “working people,” and Republicans as well.

“The tilt toward Asia — we did that starting out [of] my office. The G.I. Bill — we worked with Republicans, got them together and in 16 months passed the most important veterans legislation since World War II,” he said. “The message we see across the board that we are receiving is that people want to see fresh leadership and different ideas.”

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