Jim Webb is a former Virginia senator who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016. The New York Times reports that he is under consideration to be President Donald Trump’s pick to be the next Defense Secretary.
Webb, who previously served as the secretary of the Navy under President Ronald Reagan, has been floated as a possible successor to the recently-departed Jim Mattis. Mattis’ former deputy Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, is serving as the acting Defense Secretary.
According to The Times, Vice President Mike Pence and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney have reached out to Webb.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Webb echoed some of Trump’s talking points as he criticized China’s aggression and President Obama’s deal with Iran to curtail their nuclear program.
Other names that have been floated to replace Mattis have been former Missouri Senator Jim Talent, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Jim Webb Received Numerous Awards After Serving in Vietnam
Webb, 72, graduated from the Naval Academy in 1968 and served in Vietnam as a Marine rifle platoon and company commander, The New York Times reported.
Webb was wounded twice during his service and was awarded the Navy Cross, a high honor that is just below the Medal of Honor. He also received numerous other valor awards, including the Silver Star Medal, two Bronze Star Medals and two Purple Hearts.
The son of an Air Force officer who fought in World War II, Webb retired from the Marines after his injuries and enrolled in law school at Georgetown University, where he earned a Juris Doctor and was honored for his legal writing, according to his bio.
After graduating from Georgetown, Webb served as counsel to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. In 1982, he fought to include an African-American soldier at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at the National Mall.
2. Webb Opposed Allowing Women Into The Military
While serving on the House Veterans Affairs committee, Webb penned an op-ed in the Washingtonian titled “Women Can’t Fight.”
Webb wrote that allowing women into the military would harm the armed forces.
This is the only country in the world where women are being pushed toward the battlefield. The United States also has one of the most alarming rates of male-to-female violence in the world: Rapes increased 230 percent from 1967 to 1977 and the much-publicized wife-beating problem cuts across socioeconomic lines.
These are not separate issues, either politically or philosophically. They are visible peaks in what has become a vast bog. They are telling us something about the price we are paying, in folly on the one hand and in tragedy on the other, for the realignment of sexual roles.
Lest I be understood too quickly, I should say that I believe most of what has happened over the past decade in the name of sexual equality has been good. It is good to see women doctors and lawyers and executives. I can visualize a woman President. If I were British, I would have supported Margaret Thatcher. But no benefit to anyone can come from women serving in combat…
There is a place for women in our military, but not in combat. And their presence at institutions dedicated to the preparation of men for combat command is poisoning that preparation. By attempting to sexually sterilize the Naval Academy environment in the name of equality, this country has sterilized the whole process of combat leadership training, and our military forces are doomed to suffer the consequences.
3. Webb Served as Navy Secretary Under Ronald Reagan
In 1984, Webb was appointed as assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs under President Ronald Reagan and in 1987 he was named Secretary of the Navy.
While serving in the administration, Webb did push to open more jobs for women in the service and to modernize the Navy fleet.
Webb resigned just a year later after refusing to reduce the size of the Navy after calling for it to be expanded to 600 ships.
According to “The Reagan Diaries,” President Reagan wrote in 1988, “I don’t think Navy was sorry to see him go.”
4. Webb Ran For President in 2016
Webb, a lifelong Republican, changed his party affiliation to Democrat during the George W. Bush years and ran for US Senate in Virginia. An outspoken critic of Bush and the war in Iraq, he won the race and helped pass the post-9/11 GI Bill. In 2007, Webb delivered the Democratic response to Bush’s State of the Union Address, criticizing the administration over the economy and the war in Iraq. Webb retired from the Senate after just one term.
Webb returned to the fray during the 2016 presidential campaign when he sought the Democratic nomination.
During the campaign, Webb pushed some of the same talking points as Trump.
“If you want a place where we need to be in terms of our national strategy, a focus, the greatest strategic threat that we have right now is resolving our relationship with China,” Webb said during a 2015 debate.
Webb also criticized Obama’s Iran deal.
“The end result of this could well be our acquiescence in allowing Iran to develop a nuclear weapon,” Webb said.
Webb dropped out of the race in October 2015 after failing to garner any significant support.
Webb said in 2016 that he would not support Hillary Clinton, though he did not rule out voting for Trump.
5. Webb is an Award-Winning Journalist, Filmmaker, & Author
Aside from his political service, Webb is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and fiction author.
In 1978, Webb published “Fields of Fire,” a novel based on his experiences in Vietnam. He has written 10 books, including several other novels.
Webb won an Emmy Award for his PBS coverage of Marines in Beirut in 1983 and was embedded with the US military in Afghanistan in 2004. Webb wrote the story and was an executive producer on the film “Rules of Engagement,” which was released in 2000.