In his political career, Lincoln Chafee has held multiple offices and under different party endorsements. He claims to be a truer Democratic presidential candidate than Hillary Clinton, though, as he implied while speaking at the South Carolina Democratic Party’s April 25 convention in Columbia.
Without mentioning frontrunner Clinton by name, Chafee’s inference to her was apparent when he pointed out his voting record while serving as U.S. Senator of Rhode Island. He voted against sending troops to Iraq, calling it “the biggest mistake in American history, perhaps.” The 77 senators who supported the Iraq Resolution in Oct. 2002 were guilty of “a colossal lapse of judgment,” Chafee said.
Attending delegates quickly took that as a jab against the frontrunner candidate. Clinton was one of 29 Democrats who voted for the resolution, placing then-Republican Chafee in the company of the remaining 21 Democratic senators and one independent who voted against it.
Other references without name seemed apparent in the rest of his address, too. Chafee suggested that, when selecting from Democratic candidates in the upcoming primary, voters should examine their records and character. “Look at my record,” he offered for comparison. By pointing out that his 30-year political career is free from “scandal after scandal after scandal,” the now-Democrat seemed to borrow from the Clinton rumor bag currently being distributed by his former party and its presidential candidates.
There’s no doubt that Clinton was the target of his statements, either, as Chafee brought up her 2002 Iraq vote in a recent CNN interview. “She did not do her homework and got it wrong. It was a bad vote.”
In the same interview Chafee also admitted that he was not above using allegations included in “Clinton Cash,” the new Koch-funded book, in his potential campaign. He also said he found the former Senator and former Secretary of State to frequently change stances on issues just to conform to public opinion.
Perhaps Chafee should do some self-reflection on the subject of changes, though. A Republican who took local office in 1985, he later lost his first re-election bid for U.S. Senate in 2006. He was later elected Rhode Island Governor as an independent candidate in 2010, but changed to Democrat in 2013. After rumors of potential primary opponents, Chafee decided not to run for a second term. And according to CNN, his new campaign office is directly next to that of the Rhode Island Republican Party.
In a February poll, 65 percent of South Carolina voters selected Clinton as their Democratic nominee, leading second-place Joe Biden by 45. Three other candidates shared eight percent, while the remaining eight were undecided, according to the NBC News/Marist poll. Chafee, who didn’t launch his exploratory committee until April 9, wasn’t included.
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