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.