Jim Webb becomes fourth challenger to Hillary Clinton in Democratic field

Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb became the fifth Democrat to enter the 2016 presidential contest, acknowledging in his announcement Thursday that he would be a long shot against former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"I understand the odds, particularly in today’s political climate where fair debate is so often drowned out by huge sums of money," he wrote on his website.

Webb, who served as secretary of the Navy under Republican Ronald Reagan but won his Senate seat with a harsh attack on President George W. Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq, could bring an unpredictable voice to the Democratic field.

The veteran known for his provocative streak could also put more pressure on Clinton's foreign policy record. In the statement announcing his candidacy, he emphasized his military service and his belief that "there is no greater responsibility for our president than the vital role of commander in chief."

He called the Iraq war, which Clinton supported while a senator herself, "a strategic blunder of historic proportions." He also criticized the Obama administration's conduct during the Arab Spring, including the use of military force in Libya that the GOP has repeatedly tied to Clinton. He insisted that the terrorist attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans was indirectly due in part to the U.S. effort to oust dictator Moammar Kadafi.

"The attack in Benghazi was inevitable in some form or another, as was the continuing chaos and the dissemination of large numbers of weapons from Qaddafi’s armories to terrorist units throughout the region," Webb wrote.

Webb, 69, also said he would work to "clean out the manure-filled stables of a political system that has become characterized by greed."

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, who chairs the Democratic National Committee, cited Webb's "long and distinguished record of service to his country, both in the Marines and in public office" in a statement welcoming him to the race.

In addition to Clinton, the Democratic field now includes Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, former Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee.

Twitter: @noahbierman

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