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Senator Jim Webb, Choosing His Battles

May 19, 2008 (Fresh Air from WHYY)

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Jim Webb, Virginia's junior senator, won election in 2006 as a Democrat. But he was once a Republican — and served as Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan. The retired Marine ran for Senate in part because of his disagreements with the Bush administration, notably on its economic policies and its handling of the Iraq war.

Webb joins Fresh Air for a conversation about those issues, as well as about legislation he's recently introduced to expand benefits for Iraq War veterans. And the senator, often mentioned as a possible Democratic vice-presidential pick, explains why he's so far steered clear of endorsing a Democratic presidential contender.

Webb, who saw combat as a Marine in the Vietnam War, is the author of nine books, including the social history Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America and the new political manifesto A Time to Fight: Reclaiming a Fair and Just America. His six novels include Fields of Fire (called "the finest of the Vietnam novels" by no less an authority than Tom Wolfe) and The Emperor's General. He has also worked as a Hollywood screenwriter and producer.

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