Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb said on Tuesday he will drop his long-shot bid for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination and explore an independent run for the White House. 

"I'm stepping aside from the Democratic primary process," Webb told a news conference. He said he will speak with people and groups who have encouraged him to run as an independent.

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"We'll just have to see what happens next," Webb said.

Webb, who is more moderate on social issues than many of his fellow Democrats, had made little headway in the Democratic presidential race and barely registers in public opinion polls.