Former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Davenport Chafee has formally announced his bid to run for the 2016 presidential elections during a foreign policy speech on June 3rd, making him the fourth contender for the Democratic Party. He made the 15-minute announcement at George Mason University, in Virginia, on Wednesday evening.
“Today I am formally entering the race for the Democratic nomination for President,” he said. “If we as leaders show good judgment and make good decisions, we can fix much of what is ailing us.”
The 62-year-old veteran politician is set to run against former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
Positioning him as the underdog of this race (so far), Chafee is the only contender who has been a Republican, an Independent, and a Democrat.
Chafee’s Political History
Belonging to line of Rhode Island Republicans, Chafee’s political career began in 1985 when he was first elected to office as a Delegate to the Rhode Island Constitutional Convention, and served in the Warwick City Council from 1986 to 1990. After his successful streak, Chafee became the first Republican mayor of Warwick in 1992 and won succeeding elections in 1994, 1996, and 1998.
In 1999, Chafee was appointed to the Senate to fill in the open seat left by his father, Republican Senator John Chafee, who died near the end of his term. The younger politician won a full term in 2000 and served up to 2006, when Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse usurped him from his seat.
In 2007, Chafee had turned his back on his Republican roots when he officially endorsed Senate colleague Barack Obama in his bid for presidency. He also became the co-chair of his re-election campaign in 2012.
In 2010, he ran as an independent candidate and was elected as governor of Rhode Island. Three years later, he officially signed on as a member of the Democratic Party.
Issues and Advocacies
An advocate of the metric system, Chafee called out to the citizens to “be bold” and use metric, just like the rest of the world as a “symbolic integration,” to show goodwill and unity with other societies during his launch. Although he admitted that this move could increase cost to the US, due to replacement of signs and such, he believes that this process could positively impact the economy in the long run.
He also said that controversial WikiLeaks founder Edward Snowden should be allowed to return home and that the US government should build back its relationship with Bolivia.
When asked about the issue of ISIS during his interview on CNN, Chafee mentioned that “reinvigorating the United Nations” will be a part of his method in dealing with the threat posed by the terrorist group. He also said that the ISIS has risen as a result of the Iraq War, where he had been the only Republican Senator to vote against the use of force against Iraq in 2002. He also openly criticized then-President George W. Bush, up to the point that during the presidential election in 2004, he wrote the name of the elder Bush on the ballot.
Lincoln Chafee 2016 – The Bottom Line
At present, Chafee has also been the first candidate to directly hit Clinton, the party’s frontrunner for the presidency, for her “democratic clumsiness” for the issues that surrounded her leadership, including the email controversy, and the scandals that hounded her family.
He has also been very vocal about the fact that Clinton also voted for the Iraq War during her stint in the Senate.
“It’s heartbreaking that more of my colleagues failed to do their homework. And incredibly, the neocon proponents of the war who sold us on the false premise of weapons of mass destruction are still key advisers to a number of presidential candidates today…including the main Democratic candidate,” Chafee said during his campaign launch.
However, not all are quite convinced of his candidacy. In an interview with The Washington Post, his former political aide, Mike Trainor, believes that Chafee has a long road ahead of him as a lot of people are still unsure about his stand on issues, as well as his intentions of launching a campaign. Trainor also pointed out that Chafee would soon need to provide “credible indications” that he is “ready to run a national campaign.”