Former Rhode Island governor and U.S. senator Lincoln Chafee is considering a 2016 run for president, he revealed in a series of web videos posted online. Chafee — a former moderate Republican and Independent — announced that he is launching an exploratory committee for the Democratic nomination.
“Throughout my career, I exercised good judgment on a wide range of high-pressure decisions, decisions that require level-headedness and careful foresight,” Chafee said. “Often these decisions came in the face of political adversity. During the next weeks and months I look forward to sharing with you my thoughts about the future of our great country.”
The announcement marks a significant step in the evolution for the Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Democrat. Chafee began his political career in 1999 as a very moderate GOP senator. From there, he switched to become an Independent before narrowly winning Rhode Island’s governor’s seat in 2010. Three years later Chafee officially joined the Democratic Party after repeatedly throwing his support behind President Barack Obama. But in the face of tough re-election odds, Chafee abandoned running for a second term as governor during the 2014 cycle.
For much of his Senate career, Chafee often broke from his fellow Republicans on a number of key issues — namely his vocal opposition to both the war in Iraq and President George W. Bush. Chafee is already setting himself apart from near-certain 2016 Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, who in 2002 voted in favor of the authorizing military action in Iraq, by highlighting his opposition to the Bush administration’s decisions in the lead up to the war.
“The invasion of Iraq was based on falsehoods and is one of the worst decisions in United States history,” Chafee said in a “micro documentary” posted to his website.
Chafee joins a field of potential 2016 candidates that is crowded with political dynasties. His father, John Chafee, also served as a Republican senator and governor. The younger Chafee succeeded his father as Rhode Island senator in 1999, continuing his family’s control of the seat, which extended through three decades.