Chafee announces run for President, sits down one-on-one with ABC6

By News Staff
Reporting by John DeLuca

Former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee has formally announced that he is entering the race for the Democratic nomination for President.

The announcement was made at George Mason Center in Arlington, Virginia, Wednesday evening. He followed the announcement, stating, “If we as leaders show good judgment and make good decisions, we can fix much of what is ailing us.”

To understand Chafee and his politics, you have to take a look back where it all began for him in 1986.

That year, he was City Council member in Warwick—not as a democrat, as he is now—but as a republican. He was alone in that party during those years, yet he kept getting reelected.

In 1992, he ran for Mayor and won, and was wildly popular, winning three more times in 1994, ’96, and ’98.

In 1999, Chafee moved from the local to federal level of politics. He was appointed by then Governor, Lincoln Almond, to fill out the term of his late father, Senator John Chafee.

By 2000, he was elected to a full six year term. During that time he was a moderate republican, and did not blindly follow the party and its leaders, namely President George W. Bush and Vice President Cheney.

In fact, Chafee did just the opposite, repeatedly publicly bucking their agendas, most famously as the only republican senator to vote against authorizing the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

“I stood against the Senate, and the President, and voted no,” he stated.

In 2006, he lost his re-election bid to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse. By 2007, he left the Republican Party to become an independent. In 2010, he won a very close 4-way election for Governor of Rhode Island against Democrat Frank Caprio, Republican John Robitaille and Moderate Ken Block

Chafee was now at the state level of politics. During his time on Smith Hill, he was a champion of the Marriage Equality Act in Rhode Island. Along with then Treasurer Gina Raimondo, played a role in the historic overhaul of the state’s public pension system.

Amid chronically low poll numbers Chafee decided not to run for reelection in 2014.

People may be wondering why the former RI governor would make the announcement in Virginia. He told ABC6 News Anchor, John DeLuca, it was a combination of factors, like timing and also wanting to be close to Washington D.C.

After the speech Governor Chafee sat down with John for a one-on-one interview to talk about why he’s running.

“I’ve been thinking about this for a number of months and the exploratory phase did nothing to dissuade me,” said Chafee.

“You did mention a lot about your decision not to vote—the only Republican who didn’t vote—to authorize the invasion of Iraq. Is this something we are going to hear consistently throughout your campaign, and if so, why?” asked John.

“Because all the ramifications we’re dealing with in the Middle East, North Afica, Libya, into Europe…all coming because of the bad decisions back in October of 2002. That’s an indication of the judgments people are going to have, and if you’re going to make that call one of the worst in American history, that’s relevant to other judgment calls a candidate is going to make,” Chafee explained.

John asked about his part affiliation, “They see you were a Republican, a moderate republican, then an independent, then a Democrat. How can they trust you are indeed a Democrat?”

“Bernie Sanders. I’m not the most recent Democrat in the race. He became a Democrat more recently than me. Jim Webb was a Republican, and Hillary Clinton was once a gold water girl,” Chafee said.

“Up until this point have you been actively putting together an organization and fundraising for a run for the presidency?”

“It’s early and all the questions about, ‘how much money Chafee’s raised’ ‘what’s his organization.’ Legitimate questions… my answer? It’s early. We’re in June,” Chafee replied.

© WLNE-TV 2015