Jim Webb: Democrats need to focus more on ‘white, working people’

Posted at 6:41 PM, Jan 30, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-30 18:41:40-05

WASHINGTON — If Jim Webb had his way, the Democratic Party would return to its “Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Andrew Jackson roots” and put a greater focus on “white, working people.”

Webb, the former Democratic senator from Virginia who is entertaining a run 2016 presidential nomination, told NPR Friday morning that his party has not focused enough on white, working-class voters in the past elections. In order to be successful in the future, Webb said, that will need to change.

“I think they could do better with white, working people and I think this last election showed that,” Webb said, referencing the 2014 midterms where Republicans took control of the Senate and added more power in the House. “The Democratic Party could do very well to return to its Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Andrew Jackson roots where the focus of the party was making sure that all people who lack a voice in the corridors of power could have one through the elected represented.”

Pressed on his statement by Steve Inskeep, Webb said that he doesn’t think Democrats’ distancing from white, working people was a byproduct of President Barack Obama’s election.

“This was happening before President Obama,” Webb said.

Looking ahead to a 2016 race that he may run in, Webb added: “You are not going to have a situation again where you have 96% of the African American vote turning out for one presidential candidate. … We need to get back to the principles of the Democratic Party that we are going to give everyone who needs access to the corridors of power that access regardless of any of your antecedents. I think that is a fair concept.”

In 2012, the last presidential election, Republican Mitt Romney won nearly 60% of all white voters, compared to Obama’s 40%. The is an increased split from 2008, when Obama won 43% of the white vote and Republican John McCain won 55%.

If Webb were to enter the 2016 presidential race, he would do so as a longshot candidate. Not only would he likely be challenging Hillary Clinton for the 2016 nomination, but he told Inskeep that raising money would be a big challenge.

Like other Democrats toiling about a presidential run, Webb declined to directly attack Clinton.

“I really don’t have an answer for you on that,” he said when asked how he would differentiate himself with the former secretary of state. “She has not announced that she is running, I haven’t announced that I am running. If I were to run, it would not be as a counterpoint to her. I have issues that I care about, I want to put them on the table and we’ll see.”