Webb asked about Clinton email controversy at firefighters' event

Jim Webb (Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb walks off stage after speaking at the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Legislative Conference and Presidential Forum in Washington of March 10, 2015.

At a presidential forum hosted by the International Association of Fire Fighters, former Virginia Democratic senator and potential presidential candidate Jim Webb declined to criticize Hillary Clinton over her decision to use private email during her time as Secretary of State.

Asked by NBC News if Clinton should have been more transparent, Webb said of her upcoming press conference today at the U.N., “It’s a good time for the air to be cleared, it’s a good opportunity for her to come forward.” When pressed if he had an opinion on the matter Webb simply said, “That’s between her and you all” and “I think the best thing is to listen to her views and people will make conclusions in a better way than I can.”

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The Clinton email saga has presented an opportunity for other Democratic presidential candidates to criticize the presumptive front-runner yet none of the possible challengers have engaged the former secretary of state on the issue.

Yesterday, firefighters at the IAFF gathering were brought to their feet by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and her words of economic populism. Officials were quick to point out Warren’s speech was not part of the “presidential forum” and instead simply a general speech to the group.

Nevertheless from conversations with some of the attendees, it’s evident there’s an appetite for a challenge to Clinton on the Democratic side. One IAFF official who asked not to be named told NBC News, “These guys like Hillary, she’ll do well with them, they’d just like to see some variety.”

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The nation’s largest firefighters group is contemplating making an endorsement this summer on both the Democratic and Republican side. The group has never endorsed a Republican over a Democrat in the general presidential election. In 2008, the IAFF endorsed then-Senator Obama over Clinton.