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Former Sen. Jim Webb announces he is 'seriously looking' at 2016

Former Virginia senator Jim Webb announced Tuesday that he’s "seriously" eyeing a run for the White House.
Then-U.S. Senator Jim Webb answers a question during a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Tokyo on April 5, 2012.
Then-U.S. Senator Jim Webb answers a question during a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Tokyo on April 5, 2012.

The potential 2016 Democratic presidential field, currently dominated by Hillary Clinton, just got a bit wider.

Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb announced Tuesday that he is eyeing a run for the White House.

“I'm seriously looking at the possibility of running for president. But we want to see if there's a support base from people who would support the programs that we're interested in pursuing," he said during an event at the National Press Club in Washington. 

The popular former lawmaker has long been considered a potential top-tier presidential contender from his party’s more moderate wing. The other people eyeing challenges to Clinton, including Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, would likely run to her left.

Webb recently visited Iowa and is considering a New Hampshire trip, two states that are critical to any presidential run. 

"We've had a lot of discussion among people that I respect and trust about the future of the country, and we are going to continue having these discussions over the next four or five months,” Webb told reporters.

He would have a big hill to climb, though it's still early. Few polls have even asked about Webb, and few Americans even know his name, but a Washington Post/ABC News poll from June found he garnered support from only 2% of Democrats.

Webb would also have to compete with Clinton's major head start in fundraising and organizing, but he would likely immediately become a serious non-Clinton contender if he announced, given the weakness of the rest of the field.

Despite his more conservative leanings on economic issues, Webb has long been a strident anti-interventionist abroad, offering him another way to potentially differentiate himself from Clinton’s more hawkish views. 

Webb opposed the war in Iraq during the George W. Bush administration and disagreed with the Obama administration’s intervention in Libya to topple dictator Mommar Qadaffi, an effort that Clinton boosted inside the White House.

"I'm not here to undermine her," Webb said of Clinton. "I'm here just to explain where my concerns are as someone whose been involved in military and foreign policy all of my life."

The stepped-up military campaign against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS) could help make his message timelier. "We have to deal with our national security in a way that makes sure that we do not get entangled on the ground again," he said Tuesday.