The Curious Case of Lincoln Chafee

When was the last time you heard of the President of the United States endorsing a third party candidate?

Admittedly, it didn’t happen this cycle. Nevertheless, Lincoln Chafee got the next best thing.

On October 25th Barack Obama did his usual thing as a President right before mid-terms: gave his blessing with rallies to a few of his party’s candidates, raised funds for his party, and did a little bit of local glad-handing.

But there was one conspicuous absence: Obama never endorsed the Democrats’ nominee for Governor, Frank Caprio. It seems a question of loyalty. Lincoln Chafee was one of the first Republicans (although he was an Independent by then) to endorse Barack Obama for President. With Chafee in a tight race with Caprio and Republican John Robitaille, Obama chose not to step on an early supporter’s feet in an admittedly Democratic-friendly state.

Chafee has already capitalized on the move in his latest ad:

The 30-second spot opens with footage from a March 2008 rally when Chafee, a former Republican senator who lost his reelection bid in 2006, chose to spurn his former party and endorse Obama for president.

“Real change isn’t voting for George Bush’s war in Iraq. I knew what it was. Lincoln Chafee knew what it was,” says Obama in the clip, as “Change We Can Believe In” signs wave across the screen. 

The ad goes on to feature Independent New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The Chafee campaign claims the timing of the ad was purely coincidental.

Caprio took another direction in the wake of Obama’s decision. On a local radio show, the Democratic nominee lashed out at the President. He said, “He can really take his endorsement and shove it.” No word on where he would like Obama to shove it.

The dynamics of the race are unusual to say the least. Lincoln Chafee, a former Republican, is running to the left with a messsage of tough love. Meanwhile, news has broken that Caprio, when faced with a progressive foe in the Democratic primary, made distinct overtures to the Republican Party. In addition, the DGA has run several ads attacking Lincoln Chafee from the right. To top all of this off, Moderate Party candidate Ken Block is fighting for his party’s survival with a vigorous campaign in Rhode Island.

Democrats have generally rallied behind Caprio. The DGA criticized Obama’s non-endorsement, and Bill Clinton will soon be making a stop for the spurned candidate.

2 thoughts on “The Curious Case of Lincoln Chafee

  1. Gene Berkman

    “When was the last time you heard of the President of the United States endorsing a third party candidate?”

    Probably 1940, if FDR did issue an endorsement of Sen. Robert LaFollette Jr, running for re-election as a Progressive. Certainly FDR endorsed LaFollette on the Progressive ticket in 1934.

    In 1970. Vice-President Agnew endorsed James Buckley, Conservative candidate for Senator from New York, running against Charles Goodell, Republican appointed to replace Robert Kennedy. President Nixon stayed above the fray, but everyone assumed Agnew spoke with Nixon’s approval.

  2. JAAB

    Mr. “governor elect” Chaffee, It seems you are already sending this state in a downward spiral…sorry I would have like to start with a complement, but your actions do not condone one. Yes, the “executive order” is not working because there are already too many Illegal’s in this state… Hence how you and Cicilline got elected!!! You, our new leader breaking the law putting Illegal’s to work, while many LEGAL RHODE ISLANDERS are still UNEMPLOYED!

    We do not need to be as strict as Arizona however; we do need to stand our ground! E Verify is a step in the right direction! Voters should have to show goverment issued identification at voting locations! RI state and local police need to work closer with I.C.E and Immigration to INFORCE LAWS! I can not pick and choose the laws I want to follow neither should you or the illegals!

    I do not mind so much paying taxes I realize it is necessary. Unfortunately every single day I see my hard earned money wasted it is absolutely discussing! We also need stricter laws on welfare programs! So many people abuse the system and we in RI make it easier and easier for them. Word is out across the country how easy it is to get welfare in this sate and how unregulated it is. Tax dollars should be spend on following these people not giving them more benefits they more than likely do not deserve. Bus loads of uneducated, unskilled, people show up daily to abuse the free easy benefits here and those who try to do the right thing are denied! I see generations of families living off the system. This is unacceptable! People are put in office to PROTECT the AMERICAN PEOPLE! Not to protect people those who BREAK THE LAW!

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