Webb for Defense Secretary? Trump Reportedly Mulling the Choice

Decorated Marine Corps officer and former Reagan Navy official is apparently under consideration to replace Jim Mattis

Image Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images & Shutterstock

Gen. Jack Keane, a strategic analyst for Fox News, said Thursday night on “The Story” with Martha MacCallum that Jim Webb, a 2016 Democratic presidential candidate and a sharp critic of China, was “contacted as part of the White House’s search for a long-term replacement for former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis,” as Fox News Insider noted.

Webb, 72, is a former senator from Virginia.

He served in that role from 2007 to 2013.

He is a decorated Marine Corps officer.

Webb graduated from the Naval Academy in 1968 and received a special commendation for his leadership contributions, according to his personal biography.

He was first in his class of 243 at the Marine Corps Officers Basic School.

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He served as a rifle platoon and company commander in Vietnam and was awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star Medal, two Bronze Star Medals, and two Purple Hearts.

He graduated from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1975.

As a Republican, he served as secretary of the Navy for a short period under President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.

He later switched to the Democratic Party.

Keane, during his remarks on Fox News about Webb’s potential consideration by the White House for defense secretary, echoed a report from The New York Times that cited three federal officials and a senior Pentagon representative.

The latter apparently said Webb’s name has been “floated” at the White House for some time.

“From what I understand, Vice President Pence has reached out to him,” Keane told Martha MacCallum on Thursday night, adding that the White House is “probably taking a closer look at his views on various things, and think that he would be able to identify with where President Trump is moving.”

“Certainly we’re in major, major competition with China politically, economically, and military,” added Keane.

It’s worth noting that President Trump himself, late on Friday, said the report in The New York Times about Webb’s consideration for the position is “fake news.”

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Webb, during a 2016 Democratic presidential debate, said that resolving issues with the U.S.-China relationship is the “greatest strategic threat that we have right now.”

The Missouri-born Webb, earlier in his career, taught literature at the Naval Academy, according to his biography.

As a journalist, he received an Emmy Award for his PBS coverage of the U.S. Marines in Beirut in 1983, and in 2004 he was embedded with the U.S. military in Afghanistan.

Webb has also worked as a screenwriter and producer. His original story “Rules of Engagement” held the top slot in U.S. box offices for two weeks in April 2000.

He is the author of 10 books, including “Born Fighting,” a sweeping history of Scottish-Irish culture, and “Fields of Fire,” widely recognized as a classic novel of the Vietnam War.

In 2015, during a Democratic primary debate, Webb “railed against Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea and cyberattacks on Americans,” as The New York Times pointed out.

“If you want a place where we need to be in terms of our national strategy, a focus, the greatest strategic threat that we have right now is resolving our relationship with China,” Webb said.

Webb was also critical of former President Barack Obama’s efforts in 2015 to strike a deal to curtail Iran’s nuclear program, as Trump has been, The Times noted. “The end result of this could well be our acquiescence in allowing Iran to develop a nuclear weapon,” Webb said.

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This story has been updated.

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