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.
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.