August 23rd, 2015
12:13 PM ET

Fmr U.S. Senator Jim Webb on the appeal of Trump & Sanders: "...you are seeing a lot of worries among the American populace about their futures, economically and culturally - issues on which I actually agree with respect to economic fairness."

Today on CNN’s State of the Union, 2016 Democratic presidential hopeful, former U.S. Senator Jim Webb (D-VA), joined senior White House correspondent & guest anchor, Jim Acosta.

For more information, see http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/. Also, the full video, text highlights, and a transcript of the discussion are below.

MANDATORY CREDIT: CNN’s “State of the Union”

VIDEO

Jim Webb on State of the Union: Full Interview

TEXT HIGHLIGHTS

2016 Democratic presidential hopeful & former U.S. Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) on his own private meeting with Joe Biden: “[WEBB]: I met with Joe Biden for an hour one on one last month.  I have great regard for Joe Biden. And I think that his family and him personally have shown a tremendous amount of dignity over the past several months that have gained the respect of the whole country.  He is the Vice President of the United States.  And I have a high regard for him. [ACOSTA]:  Did he indicate to you that he is thinking about running, that this is something that is on his mind?  [WEBB]: I think private meetings are best left that way.  And I wouldn't get into another individual's potential campaign, but it doesn't surprise me that he is sitting down and talking to someone who has a strong record on economic fairness issues. …I - you don't want me as your vice president.”

Webb on the appeal of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders: “I think what we are seeing in the country writ large is sort of a period of like total discomfort, almost just getting it out of the system right now.  And you are seeing a lot of worries among the American populace about their futures, economically and culturally, and whether the leaders in Washington are really - have really been taking care of them.  So, you see it in the Republican Party with people going to Trump on issues that are concerning their stability, their long-term stability.  And you see it in the Democratic Party with people moving toward Bernie Sanders on issues I - issues on which I actually agree with respect to economic fairness.”

Webb on the female graduates making it through the United States Army Ranger Program: “I'm very proud to look and see that these two women who are West Point graduates, and they went through the rigorous training.”

Webb on the Pentagon investigating United States Military personnel using Ashley Madison: “I think we have a lot of other issues that we need to be looking at in terms of how the United States military shapes its strategy for the future, lowers its footprint in the Middle East, takes care of these issues in Asia, and has a presence around the world that reflects our national strategy.”

Webb on the current situation on the Korean Peninsula: “…in the long term, this is an opportunity for us to get a confidence-builder with China.  We have been having a lot of problems with China.  This is an area where China has some influence, and perhaps can help us resolve a situation.”

FULL TRANSCRIPT

THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN ANCHOR:  Unprecedented, that is the word South Korea is using to describe the military threat by North Korea this morning. The South Koreans say North Korea's submarine fleet has disappeared from radar and Kim Jong-un has doubled the number of troops along the border.  Will the tensions explode into all-out war?

And joining me now is Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of the Navy former Virginia Senator Jim Webb. Senator Webb, thanks for joining us this morning.  We appreciate it.

JIM WEBB (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Good morning.  Nice to be with you.

ACOSTA:  Based on your expertise in Asian affairs, how serious is this situation with North Korea?  Obviously, every few years, it seems the North Koreans are provocative.  That typically means they want something in return for sort of lowering their military stance, their war footing. What is your sense of it when you look at it right now?

WEBB:  Well, they are a very opaque regime, the most opaque regime in Asia in terms of trying to understand what their decisional process is. And, as a result, you have to be prepared for, you know, unpredictable actions from them.  At the same time, they should know, their military people should know that, if they really were to do something like that, they would lose badly.

And we are the guarantor of stability in all of the Asian Rim.  We have been since the end of World War II.  I worked very hard on that, as you know, and for many, many years.  And I would say, in the long term here - the short-term is, we're going to go through a crisis, and hopefully this will not spill over, because it will be bad for them, but it will be detrimental in the region.

But in the long term, this is an opportunity for us to get a confidence-builder with China.  We have been having a lot of problems with China.  This is an area where China has some influence, and perhaps can help us resolve a situation.

ACOSTA:  And is it your sense at all that the White House, that President Obama has not been firm enough, has sort of encouraged North Korea, Kim Jong-un to start playing games again?

WEBB:  No, I just think the North Korean regime is - as I say, it is opaque and unpredictable.  And I think, in that particular spot in East Asia, I think we have sent the right signals.

ACOSTA:  OK.

WEBB:  The questions that I would have with respect to this administration's policy have been the actions of China in the Senkaku Islands and then all the way down along the Rim, in the Spratlys, where they are clearly expanding their military presence.  And I think we could do a lot more.

ACOSTA:  Let me switch gears completely here, go to politics.  Donald Trump - I'm sure you saw this - drew 30,000 people on Friday in Mobile, Alabama.  Who would have thought this would have been the summer of Trump?  But, being a military man, does he have what it takes to be commander in chief, in your view?

WEBB:  Well, I think what we are seeing in the country writ large is sort of a period of like total discomfort, almost just getting it out of the system right now.  And you are seeing a lot of worries among the American populace about their futures, economically and culturally, and whether the leaders in Washington are really - have really been taking care of them.

So, you see it in the Republican Party with people going to Trump on issues that are concerning their stability, their long-term stability.  And you see it in the Democratic Party with people moving toward Bernie Sanders on issues I - issues on which I actually agree with respect to economic fairness.

(CROSSTALK)

ACOSTA:  Can you tap into this?  Can you tap into that, do you think?

WEBB:  I think, when people calm down, and they are going to look for leaders who really can get things done, somebody who can bring people together. We have a record of, on all of these issues, economic fairness, social justice, national security, working together, that we would be able to, you know, get into this in a very different way once things calm down.  And they will.

ACOSTA:  And let me ask you about this issue of women in combat, because that has been in the news this week, as you know. And in 1979, you famously wrote "Women Can't Fight."  And you drew upon your experience as a combat veteran.  This week, we saw the first female soldiers compete in the Army's rigorous Ranger School.  I suppose you - well, look, you are going to take all of that back, aren't you?

(CROSSTALK)

WEBB:  Now, let's just say this.  What were you doing in 1979?

ACOSTA:  I was about 8 years old, so...

WEBB:  OK.  All right.

I came back from a very hard war, where more than 100,000 Marines were killed or wounded.  I had my views about how the political process should be dictating to the military the way that they make changes.  And I did not title that article, by the way.  And if you read the article, it was a strong article on women in combat.

ACOSTA:  But times have changed.

WEBB:  They have changed. And if you look at my record as a government official, when I was secretary of the Navy, I opened up more billets to women than any secretary of the Navy in history.  We did it by having the military talk to the political process.  My record in the Senate was very clear on this.

And I am totally comfortable now with the military being able to make these decisions in a way that it goes to performance.  And I'm very proud to look and see that these two women who are West Point graduates, and they went through the rigorous training.  And the military decides - should be able to decide how they would be used.

ACOSTA:  Let me pose another question to you, because this came up earlier this week. And Defense Secretary Carter said on Thursday that the Pentagon is looking into this list of people who used military e-mail addresses to use this Ashley Madison Web site.  I don't know if you saw this, but there were some instances where there were people using their Department of Defense accounts.  As somebody who used to be a top official in the Pentagon, how would you handle that?

WEBB:  Well, look, I think the - that whole question is a large millions-of-people question.  And, also, it is more government-wide, and not just the Pentagon.

And I think we have a lot of other issues that we need to be looking at in terms of how the United States military shapes its strategy for the future, lowers its footprint in the Middle East, takes care of these issues in Asia, and has a presence around the world that reflects our national strategy.

ACOSTA:  Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, does that have you worried very much?

WEBB:  Look, I met with Joe Biden for an hour one on one last month.  I have great regard for Joe Biden. And I think that his family and him personally have shown a tremendous amount of dignity over the past several months that have gained the respect of the whole country.  He is the Vice President of the United States.  And I have a high regard for him.

ACOSTA:  Did he indicate to you that he is thinking about running, that this is something that is on his mind?

WEBB:  I think private meetings are best left that way.  And I wouldn't get into another individual's potential campaign, but it doesn't surprise me that he is sitting down and talking to someone who has a strong record on economic fairness issues.

ACOSTA:  And you would obviously serve as his running mate?

WEBB:  I - you don't want me as your vice president.

ACOSTA:  Oh, is that right?  OK.  All right.

(LAUGHTER)

ACOSTA:  Senator Webb, we will leave it there.  Thank you very much, sir.  We appreciate it.

WEBB:  It's good to be with you.

ACOSTA:  All right.

###END INTERVIEW###

 


Topics: CNN • Jim Acosta • State of the Union
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