Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb announces candidacy for 2016 presidency

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Jim Webb speaks in Baltimore. (Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP)

Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb announced Thursday that he is running for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Webb, 69, revealed the decision to throw his hat in the ring in a lengthy open letter to his supporters, posted to his official website.

“We need a President who understands leadership, who has a proven record of actual accomplishments, who can bring about bipartisan solutions, who can bring people from both sides to the table to get things done,” he said.

Webb, a Vietnam veteran and former Navy secretary, said that the United States needs a fresh approach to solve the problems that confront the nation and all too often divide it.

He argued that huge sums of money regularly drown out fair debate and noted that more than one candidate intends to raise at least $1 billion.

“We need to shake the hold of these shadow elites on our political process,” he said. “Our elected officials need to get back to the basics of good governance and to remember that their principal obligations are to protect our national interests abroad and to ensure a level playing field here at home, especially for those who otherwise have no voice in the corridors of power.”

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Jim Webb talks with employees during a tour of the Rippey Wind Farm in Grand Junction, Iowa. (Photo: Charlie Neibergall/AP)

Webb, who has extensive military experience, said that there is no more vital role for the president than commander in chief, and that — had he been president — he would not have urged the invasion of Iraq.

“I warned in writing five months before that invasion that we do not belong as an occupying power in that part of the world, and that this invasion would be a strategic blunder of historic proportions, empowering Iran and in the long run China, unleashing sectarian violence inside Iraq and turning our troops into terrorist targets,” he said.

For his service during the Vietnam War, Webb was awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star Medal, two Bronze Star Medals and two Purple Hearts.

He was elected to the Senate in 2006 but left after one term.

Last November, Webb became the first well-known Democrat to establish a presidential exploratory committee.

Webb, whose campaign slogan is “Leadership You Can Trust,” is the latest politician to join the field of challengers going up against Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton for the party’s nomination.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee have already officially launched their respective campaigns.

Webb lives in northern Virginia with his wife, Hong Le Webb. He has six children. 

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