Webb to Remain in Senate, No longer VP Candidate

ABC News' Matthew Jaffe Reports: Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., long rumored to be a leading candidate for Sen. Barack Obama's choice as his vice-presidential running mate, announced Monday that he intends to remain in his Senate post. "Last week I communicated to Senator Obama and his presidential campaign my firm intention to remain in the United States Senate, where I believe I am best equipped to serve the people of Virginia and this country," Webb said in a statement. "Under no circumstances will I be a candidate for Vice President." Webb's announcement may be seen by some as a surprise, since as recently as a few weeks ago Webb's Capitol Hill colleagues were referring to him as "Mr. Vice President", as Obama's close friend Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., teasingly did on the Senate floor in June. But Webb said Monday that he believes his skills are best suited to the Senate, not the number two spot.    "A year and a half ago, the people of Virginia honored me with election to the U.S. Senate," Webb said in his statement. "I entered elective politics because of my commitment to strengthen America's national security posture, to promote economic fairness, and to increase government accountability. I have worked hard to deliver upon that commitment, and I am convinced that my efforts and talents toward those ends are best served in the Senate." 

Although he will not be serving as Obama's running mate, Webb promised to do all he can to help the Democratic candidate win the Oval Office. If Obama can carry Virginia, it would mark the first time a Democrat had pulled off the feat since 1964.   

"At this time I am also renewing my commitment to work hard to make sure that Senator Obama wins both Virginia and the presidency this November," said Webb. "He is a man who speaks eloquently about our national goals and calls for the practical solutions that must be put into place to obtain them. I will proudly campaign for him."

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine said that he was pleased that Webb will continue serving the Old Dominion state.

"While I believe that Senator Jim Webb would have made a great vice president, it is good news for Virginia that he will continue to represent the Commonwealth in the U.S. Senate," Kaine said in a statement. "In a very short period of time, Jim has made us proud to call him our Senator. His service to Virginia and to the country has been invaluable and he and Mark Warner are going to make a great team after this November's election."

Webb was regarded as a strong contender to share the ticket with Obama in part because of the junior Virginia senator's strengths in foreign policy and military affairs. Webb served in Vietnam and was later awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star Medal, two Bronze Star Medals, and two Purple Hearts.  He also finished first in his class of 243 at the Marine Corps Officers' Basic School in Quantico, Virginia. In 1987, Webb became the first Naval Academy graduate to serve in the military and then become Secretary of the Navy, a position he held under President Ronald Reagan.

The Senator hails from a family of fighters. As he wrote in his 2004 book "Born Fighting", Webb's ancestors have fought in every major American war. Not only did Webb carry on that tradition, but so did his son Jimmy, a Marine who served in Iraq. During his victorious 2006 campaign for Senate against incumbent Republican George Allen, Webb often wore Jimmy's old combat boots on the trail.

But Webb's accomplishments are not limited to military service and politics. He has written eight books, including six best-selling novels, as well as working as a screenwriter and producer in Hollywood. Webb even has an Emmy thanks to his PBS coverage of Marines in Beirut. 

As senator, Webb serves on the Foreign Relations, Armed Services, Veterans Affairs, and Joint Economic committees. However, his time in office has not been immune from controversy. At a White House reception on November 28, 2006, Webb declined to stand in line to have his picture taken with President Bush. In 2007, one of Webb's aides was arrested for carrying the Senator's loaded pistol into a Capitol Hill office building.

But there have also been some highlights. In January 2007, Webb delivered the Democratic response to Bush's State of the Union address, a speech in which Webb hit out at Bush's handling of the Iraq war, which, like Obama, Webb opposed from the start. Just last month, Webb spearheaded the passage of the new GI Bill, an accomplishment that Webb said gave him "renewed confidence that the Congress can indeed work effectively across party lines and address the concerns of our citizens."

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