Can Jim Webb avoid becoming Rick Lazio?
Will Hillary and her supporters head for the fainting couch if Webb gets tough?
He may only be polling at 2% in preliminary polls, but Jim Webb has come out swinging against Hillary Clinton.
The former Virginia Senator and Reagan-era secretary of the navy announced today that he’s throwing his hat in for the Democratic nomination for president with a statement that punches up both at Clinton’s controversial run as Secretary of State, but the underdeveloped foreign policy chops of the other Democratic candidates.
“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. “I know that more than one candidate in this process intends to raise at least a billion dollars—some estimates run as high as two billion dollars—in direct and indirect financial support.”
Webb said in his statement that he is running to offer both “a fresh approach” and “experienced leadership.” As president, he said, he would reinforce alliances with NATO and in the Middle East, as well as challenge China in the South China Sea.
Webb is the only Democratic candidate to strongly emphasize foreign policy in his platform.
“There is no greater responsibility for our President than the vital role of Commander in Chief,” said Webb. “I have spent my entire life in and around the American military.”
The odds are stacked against him, but I wouldn’t count him out. Webb is tough, and has a resume that does more than establish progressive talking point credibility.
So the Democratic “field” has become an actual field, with a diverse group of candidates ready to take aim at the one woman we all expected would serve as the left’s Anointed One for the 2016 nomination. Still, the democratic candidates will have six opportunities to convince dem primary voters that “anyone but Hillary” has gone from a running conservative gag to a viable option for progressives who actually want progress (at least in terms of their own philosophy.) At least one faction on the left is pushing for a more open debate process, which would allow voters to partially control what candidates sound off on.
Of course, debates can always backfire.
Remember this moment from the 2000 New York Senate debate between Hillary Clinton and Rick Lazio? Lazio’s campaign all but collapsed after he approached Clinton at the podium with a copy of a “soft money” pledge and demanded she sign it. Of course, Lazio paid the price. Watch:
The Clinton campaign—and the media—were apoplectic:
Stung by apparent charges that he was too aggressive during last week’s New York Senate debate against Hillary Rodham Clinton, Rep. Rick Lazio said Tuesday such criticism of his behavior was “sexist.”
Lazio, the Republican nominee, left his podium during last week’s forum in Buffalo and strode over to Mrs. Clinton’s side of the stage brandishing what he said was a contract to ban soft money from the campaign. The first lady did not accept the offer.
After the event, Mrs. Clinton’s spokesman, Howard Wolfson, called Lazio’s behavior “menacing.”
Last Thursday, the first lady dismissed it with a jibe at Lazio, saying “the thing that probably prepared me best in dealing with things like that was having two younger brothers.”
Tuesday, Lazio responded during a campaign stop in Buffalo.
“The idea that somehow that there’s a double standard because you’re a man or a woman, and you can’t make a point forcefully if you’re a man, and the person you’re making the point with is a woman, I just think that’s sexist,” he told reporters.
Lazio added, “I don’t think people in the Senate worry about whether you’re a man or a woman.”
In response, Mrs. Clinton’s communications director, Howard Wolfson, said “Today the political world was rocked by the bizarre accusation that Rick Lazio has been the victim of sexism. Poor Rick. Let me be the first to offer him my support.”
Menacing. That word alone conjures up images of a faceless man hovering over a defenseless woman. Will Clinton use this tactic again? My knee-jerk reaction is to say that yes, she will pull the gender card against her opponents, but that it won’t work out as well for her as it did during her Senate bid. Voters have seen Clinton rise to the highest levels of government and diplomacy—she’s no shrinking violet, and for her to put on that act could be seen as a betrayal of her glass ceiling-cracking legacy.
Speaking of that legacy—she just fielded a candidate who has the chops to challenge it.
She should be nervous about these debates.
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Who? Avoid becoming who?
I have found Webb as odious as Obama. Both have an elephant’s memory towards slights, real and imagined. Both deal in myth and legend not fact. Both are dividers, not uniters.
Only their tribal allegiance differs.
Sanders is the unexpected contender because he hits at Hillary from the left, where the center of gravity in the Democratic Party has shifted. Webb will be running ever-so-slightly to her right, but there isn’t a big demand for that among modern Democrats.
I expect he will be largely ignored, but more successfully than she has ignored Sanders. But some polls have shown rising numbers for Biden through all this, too. He’s not to Hillary’s right, but he’s far more electable than Sanders or Webb, and has far less baggage than Clinton. And he can invoke the memory of his recently deceased son Beau, who urged him to run.
If I had to wager on the eventual nominee right now, my money would be on Biden.
What Lazio did was rather weird.
But a future GOP debate of Mrs. Scum will not be unnecessary. Mrs. Scum is not going to make it that far.