It was back in November of 2014 when former Virginia Senator Jim Webbformed his Presidential exploratory committee. Such a move is a commonprecursor to launching a formal bid for the Presidency. While most prospective candidates choose toget out on the trail as the committee does its work (specifically in placeslike Iowa and New Hampshire), Webb has been noticeably absent over the past several weeks -- to the extent that most people were probably unaware that he was still entertaining the idea of running (let alone seeking the nomination).

His announcement -- via his campaign website -- comes a dayafter Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton announced that her campaign hadraised $45 million dollars from donors over the last quarter.

Clinton not only has a head start, but she's also polling far better than both her Democratic andRepublican peers (according to a recent CNN poll).

To call Jim Webb an underdog is probably anunderstatement. And, based on hiscampaign announcement, Webb knows the odds are against him.

“I understand theodds, particularly in today’s political climate where fair debate is so oftendrowned out by huge sums of money. I know that more than one candidate in thisprocess intends to raise at least a billion dollars – some estimates run ashigh as two billion dollars – in direct and indirect financial support.”

Webb’s Facebook page includes the phrase, “I heard mycountry calling” and with today’s formal announcement, political observers willbe watching the polls closely to see if Webb appeals to some Democratic voterswho may be supporting Clinton by default thus far.

Webb is a decorated Vietnam Veteran who alsoserved as Secretary of the Navy during the Reagan Administration. He served one-term as a Senator from Virginia (2007-2013). In a move thatsurprised many at the time, Webb did not seek a second term.

Webb’s time in the Senate was not without some controversy -- most notably, a November 2006 exchangewith President George W.

Bush. Aswas recorded by many News outlets at the time, Webb had a terse response toBush when the President asked about Webb’s son (who was an active US Marineengaged in combat operations in the Gulf).

Although Webb has an extensive military background thatincludes not only his decorated combat service, but also time as faculty at theNaval Academy, he's not the hawk some might assume.

Webb was a vocal critic of both Bushadministrations during the first Persian Gulf War and the War inIraq.

His proposed approach to foreign policy -- specifically howand when to use US military forces -- could be a key differentiator forWebb. As articulated on his website, “First and foremost, if a President wishesto conduct offensive military operations, he – or she – should be able toexplain clearly the threat to our national security, the specific objectives ofthe operations, and the end result he or she wishes to obtain.”

His position here is a clear criticism of how militaryforces have been deployed over the past two decades. Moreover, Webb is clear in stating that he would not have supported the invasion of Iraq or the use ofUS air power over Libya.

If the issue becomes key to the public discourse, thiscould be an opportunity for Webb to appeal to both Democrats and Independents who've disapproved of the Obama Administrations' intervention in foreign affairs(particularly the expansion of drone strikes).

By contrast, Hillary Clinton has defended the use of dronestrikes as a legitimate and necessary military offensive during the ObamaAdministration. Her position is welldocumented in her own memoir, HardChoices.

Even if Webb can successfully distinguish himself from theDemocratic frontrunner, getting that message to the Democratic faithful will becostly. As the well-oiled Clinton machine continues to build momentum, Webb’s team has to figure out a way to stay relevant in this David and Goliath-esque bid for the Democratic nomination.

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