This post has it right: No one saw this one coming. Senator Jim Webb, the former Republican and Reagan-era Navy secretary who has been touted as the perfect tough-guy complement to Barack Obama, unexpectedly and very publicly withdrew his name from VP consideration today.
The most immediate beneficiary of this could be Tim Kaine, the first-term governor of Virginia, which has emerged as perhaps the preeminent swing state of this cycle. Republicans have carried it in every election since 1964, but the Old Dominion’s demographic evolution strongly favors the Democrats. Polls this year have shown Obama even with — or even slightly ahead of — John McCain.
Originally, Obama had three viable VP options from the state: Webb, Kaine and former Governor Mark Warner, who seems to be on cruise control in the race for Virginia’s open Senate seat. But Warner, easily the most popular of the three, withdrew his name from the VP hunt a while back, and with Webb’s departure, Kaine is now the last Virginian standing.
Still, Kaine, who will be forced from office by Virginia’s stingy one-term limit next year, is not without liabilities: He lacks a national profile and isn’t a particularly charismatic figure. Perhaps more importantly, he lacks national security seasoning.
In that sense, Webb’s decision probably also boosts the prospects of Joe Biden and Sam Nunn, both of whom offer Obama the same kind of reassuring presence on national security that Webb might have provided.