Former Democratic Senator Could Replace Mattis As Defense Secretary, Says Report

Virginia Kruta | Associate Editor

Former Democratic Virginia Sen. Jim Webb is reportedly being considered as a possible replacement for retiring Defense Secretary James Mattis.

According to a report from The New York Times, Webb has been approached by representatives for both Vice President Mike Pence and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

Representatives for Vice President Mike Pence and Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, have reached out to Mr. Webb, one of the three officials said. Separately, a senior Defense Department official confirmed that Mr. Webb’s name had been circulating at the White House. Those two and the third official all spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the internal discussions.

Webb’s vocal opposition to the Iraq war and former President Barack Obama’s Iran Deal — along with his belief that China should be dealt with aggressively — seem to align him with much of President Donald Trump’s foreign policy. He also fails to align with the more progressive Democrats on other key issues like climate change(RELATED: Donald Trump Should Consider Jim Webb For Veep)

The Naval Academy graduate and Vietnam veteran also served as President Ronald Reagan’s secretary of the Navy. While in Vietnam, he earned the Navy Cross, the Silver Star Medal, two Bronze Star Medals and two Purple Hearts.

Webb, who served only one term as senator, briefly entered the 2016 Democratic presidential primary. He left the race abruptly after the first televised debate, saying that he and the Democratic Party had parted ways.

“I fully accept that my views on many issues are not compatible with the power structure and base of the Democratic Party,” he said, leaving the door open for an independent run that never materialized.

In 2016, Webb distanced himself further from the Democratic Party when he said that he could not cast a vote for nominee Hillary Clinton and admitted that he would consider pulling the lever for Trump.

Other names reportedly being discussed for Mattis’s past position include former Republican Missouri Sen. Jim Talent and sitting Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

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