June 11th, 2008
10:46 AM ET
10 years ago

Potential VP candidate addresses Confederacy views


Watch Webb's comments on American Morning.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia – someone widely considered to be on the shortlist as a possible running mate with Sen. Barack Obama – again defended his views on the Confederacy during an interview with CNN’s John Roberts.

WATCH what Sen. Webb said

Webb has argued in an essay, his book, and in a 1990 speech that the issue of state sovereignty rather than slavery was the "driving issue" for Confederate soldiers in fighting in the Civil War.

Many historians, however, have argued that slavery, not states’ rights, was the motivating force behind the Civil War.

In his interview with CNN, Webb said his comments about the Confederacy were as a historian dealing with a complex subject.

"Only 5 percent of the whites owned slaves in the height of slavery," Webb said. "The people in the North were never asked to give up their slaves even with the Emancipation Proclamation.

"Looking at military service as a citizen during that time, the issue was loyalty to your community, the same way it is when people are being sent to Iraq today," Webb said. "And that's a complicated issue. It's being obviously simplified in some form but I'm happy to discuss it and comfortable with my views on it."

Webb was criticized for his views on the Confederacy during his Senate run in 2006. Now that Webb’s name is being circulated as a potential running mate, the blogosphere is again raising concerns that Webb may be unacceptable to voters if invited to join the Democratic ticket.

The Virginia Democrat is seen as an attractive complement to Sen. Obama given his opposition to the Iraq war and strong national security credentials. Webb, a Vietnam veteran and a former secretary of the Navy under President Ronald Reagan, however, said during his CNN interview that he was not seeking his party's vice presidential nomination.

Filed under: Jim Webb
soundoff (74 Responses)
  1. Tony

    This is idiotic. I thought it was a well-known fact that was taught in school that the issue of state sovereignty was the PRINCIPLE cause of the Civil War and why Confederates fought in it. If people are outraged or surprised by his point of view (based on historical fact), they should go back to 8th grade Social Studies.

    June 11, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  2. Kristen- Philadelphia, PA

    Webb should just stay in Virginia. He brings more baggage than Obama needs for November.

    June 11, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  3. aka1577, MI

    Senator Webb's argument makes a whole lot of sense. Need I mention I am black, too?

    June 11, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  4. lavelle Rochester,ny

    McCain Democrat Name a list of Hillary's accomplishments since she was anointed her State Senate seat??? Don’t worry I'll wait! Years in Washington do not guarantee you leading success. She ran her campaign into 20 million in debt and the old "inexperienced" guy is being begged for cash to help her out! Get over it already!

    June 11, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  5. Patrick

    As a McCain supporter I think this is rediculous. As usual people on both sides try to take one little gaffe...and this might not even be one, and try to drag their opponents through the mud. We get enough hate coming from the left, the right shouldn't follow suit.

    June 11, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  6. Down with Obama

    Please don't doom yourself by getting on the ticket with Obama!!!

    Obama is a loser!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 11, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  7. Beth - Florida

    and another one bites the dust...

    Great short list Mr Obama

    June 11, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  8. Matt, Manchester, CT

    So Webb's views of the motivations for the Civil War is a hot topic down in Atlanta, eh CNN?

    Next let's see if Obama believes Waterloo should have been fought differently by the French.

    Atta boy for another wonderful piece of reporting.

    June 11, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  9. No HIllary and No McCain EVER

    The term "Enemies List" is very clear political shorthand for a revenge list, referencing a Nixon-era list that then-White House counsel John Dean explained was for the purpose of "us(ing) the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies."

    June 11, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  10. Darth Vadik, CA

    Jim Webb for VP

    June 11, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  11. jimmy velman

    whatever the cause (s) of the civil war. we do not need to resurrect
    that costly war. we still are a divided country and there is no need for anyone to fan the flames that ignited the civil war. we now have so many problems that need our attention and esp. our congress and president.. our congress has failed us in the two years since it became a democratic majority led by an ineffective speaker pelosi.

    June 11, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  12. smatt-ann arbor michigan

    who cares what webb said in his book??he can get votes in his state..however if obama wants to win his VP list is real short.to heal the party both clintons will be the VP. if he wants military experiance and to take a state away from maccain, and to steal independant voters he should go with jesse ventura. if he wants ohio he should forget about strickland and start courting dennis kusinich, who can really carry ohio.what's up with obama's vetting team??fire them all i'll break it down for him, work aroud the clock, 3rd shift and weekends all for minimum wage (what can i say college graduate, but i live in michigan's terrible economy).all the others should just be in his cabinet they probably cant even carry their own state more less bring in independent voters and have military experiance including webb, edwards,strickland,clark,and richardson.ventura and kusinich are real american heros, the clintons just know how to get things done.

    June 11, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  13. Black and proud.

    Jim Webb is correct! Anyone who has taken a colligaite history course and bothered to stay awake would tell you that slavery was one of many issues in the Civil War.
    Linclon had no great love for black people. Taxes had just as much to to do with the war as slavery did. A small percentage of whites owned slaves, the majority of soldiers that died were fighting for reasons other than the freedom of black people. This story is a non-issue, just the rights way of starting troulble. I am black Virginian who voted for Webb. I do not see the contraversy here.

    June 11, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  14. bigben1986

    If they only knew the real story about John McCain's first wife. It was reported the other day by the London Press. Former Mrs. McCaIN had a car accident while McCain was in Vietnam. Her medical bills was paid for by Ross Perot for humanitarian reasons. After five years of being a POW when he came home he was picked up by former Mrs. McCain and she was limping and her legs was disfigured. That was the reason why he ditched her for the current one. Bear in mind the former Mrs. McCain was a former model. Why no one reported that on American MSM makes you wonder?? Hmmmm.

    June 11, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  15. Matt in NC

    To Laura in CA and Tom in St. Paul:

    So, are you saying that Obama shouldn't have him on the ticket because he'll be viewed as a racist???

    Do you how ridicuous that sounds?

    What is wrong with you people?

    June 11, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  16. Michael

    Actually, the way things have "progressed" here in the United States, true patriots would be urging secession from the United States in much the way the Founders of this Country did in their fight to secede from the King of England's control back in the 1700's. Just a thought, Thomas Jefferson wrote, "It becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another." How much truer is that today? Secession doesn't have to be a military battle unless the host refuses to recognize the grievances of the other party and refuses to allow the other party to "leave." I bet, if given the option, there would be many states/regions of this Country willing and ready to leave this current Government of the United States.

    June 11, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  17. Independent for Obama

    Yeah, you can't really say you misspoke when you gave a speech and wrote a BOOK on the topic. This may be an interesting intellectual exercise, but I think outside the deep south, everyone thinks that slavery, more than simply state sovereignty (which was code for many years for "the federal government shouldn't tell us what to do because we want to discriminate against minorities") was the clear driving force for the Civil War.

    Jim Webb DEFINITELY isn't making the cut to be considered as VP.

    June 11, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  18. What if?

    Please Obama don't doom yourself by allowing anyone on the ticket as VP!!!

    Obama 08!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 11, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  19. Alice

    Webb is right, of course. But that is precisely why he shouldn't be Obama's VP.

    His academic, tell-it-like-it-is personna rubs alot of folks the wrong way. Especially those "hard-working blue-collar" Americans that Obama needs to make more comfortable with him, not turn off.

    June 11, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  20. Crush Rush

    Webb is right,money was the driving force then just as it is today.If you want the TRUTH just follow the money trail in any situation,then and now.Limbaugh says Global Warming is a hoax,and that he is smarter than all the scientists.Now who might he be working for?

    June 11, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  21. milly

    As an Obama supporter his views on the confederacy shouldn't be held against him. After all if Robert Byrd, an ex KKK member can endorse Barack then Webb's opinions about something long past is irrelevent. This man should not be called a "racist" , because as he points out most of the enlisted men didn't own slaves it was the wealthy landowners. Slavery was only an indirect cause, because the Confederate states resented the Union for interfering in each state's rights.

    June 11, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  22. What if?

    You republicans are on a roll today, I guess the latest insane comment that McCain made regarding the war time frame needs some repair work, they are getting PAID to stay busy today…………...

    We can tell who you AREEEEEEEEE.......

    OBAMA 08

    June 11, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  23. Belle

    Webb is right! Only the wealthly owned slaves. The poor whites followed because they believed the rhetoric sold to them by the wealthly: that it was states rights not the right to own slaves. The wealthly only cared about their lifestyle (and they needed slaves to continue that lifestyle). The poor whites believed in states rights because the wealthly sold that line to keep them in line. Now, once again we are being sold rhetoric (except this time by a black man).

    June 11, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  24. Character Content Examination

    Hey Fact Check – you wrote:

    1. S. 3077: A bill to strengthen transparency and accountability in Federal spending.
    2. S. 1885: Military Family Job Protection Act
    3. S. 1977: Nuclear Weapons Threat Reduction Act of 2007
    4. S. 768: Fuel Economy Reform Act
    5. S. 674: Transparency and Accountability in Military and Security Contracting Act of 2007

    Should I waste my time on angry/bitter racists who can't even be bothered to do their homework?

    You should do your own homework. Not a one of these bills was ever even voted on. Submitting a bill may require paperwork skills but doesn't demonstrate the ability to actually accomplish anything.

    June 11, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
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