Webb Would Be a Bold Choice for Obama's No. 2

Rumors are swirling about a vice-presidential ballot spot for Sen. James Webb (D-Va.), left, shown with Tim Russert during a taping of "Meet the Press," one stop on a media tour for Webb's book, "A Time to Fight: Reclaiming a Fair and Just America."
Rumors are swirling about a vice-presidential ballot spot for Sen. James Webb (D-Va.), left, shown with Tim Russert during a taping of "Meet the Press," one stop on a media tour for Webb's book, "A Time to Fight: Reclaiming a Fair and Just America." (By Alex Wong -- Getty Images For Meet The Press)

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By Tim Craig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 22, 2008

RICHMOND Virginia Sen. James Webb, ending a nationwide publicity tour, is fueling speculation that he will be on Sen. Barack Obama's shortlist for vice presidential candidates.

But don't start making Obama-Webb signs just yet.

Since Sunday, Webb (D) has appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press," CBS's "Early Show," NPR's "Fresh Air" and the "Late Show With David Letterman." He was also scheduled to be on "Countdown With Keith Olbermann" on MSNBC and CNN's "Lou Dobbs Tonight" on Tuesday.

The media blitz, which included being featured on the cover of Parade magazine Sunday, coincides with the release of Webb's latest book, "A Time to Fight: Reclaiming a Fair and Just America," which chronicles what he says are the economic and foreign policy challenges facing the nation.

Not even two years into his first term in the Senate, Webb is making a name for himself as a plainspoken lawmaker who opposes the war in Iraq and forcefully pushes his message of economic populism.

Last week, Webb scored the biggest legislative victory of his congressional career when the House approved his bill to enhance the benefits offered to soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

For the record, Webb says he's not interested in being a vice-presidential candidate this year. After "Meet the Press" moderator Tim Russert pressed him Sunday, Webb said he would "highly discourage" both Democratic candidates for president from offering him a spot on the ticket, saying he's happy in the Senate.

But few politicians have been known to decline a spot on the ticket if they are offered it.

If Obama defeats Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) for the Democratic nomination, which looks increasingly likely, Webb might be a formidable addition to the Democratic ticket.

A former Marine who was highly decorated for his service in Vietnam, Webb would enhance Obama's national security credentials and help Democrats counter Arizona Sen. John McCain's heroic military record.

Like Obama, Webb opposed the war in Iraq long before the invasion in March 2003, giving Obama an opportunity to reinforce his central argument that Democrats had the better judgment when it came to whether to authorize the war. And Obama could charge Webb, who served as secretary of the Navy, with planning an exit strategy from the war in Iraq that would not lead to chaos in the Middle East.

Webb also is a former Republican, which fits neatly with Obama's campaign theme of reaching out to independents and Republicans in changing the way business is done in Washington. Webb, an opponent of gun control, would also provide some ideological balance to Obama, who leans to the left on many issues.


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