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Lincoln Chafee announces 2016 bid for president

The 2016 Democratic field just got a little bigger.

The 2016 Democratic field just got a little bigger.

Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee announced his presidential campaign Wednesday in Arlington, Virginia, saying he wants America to "wage peace," not war.

"Without a doubt we now have prodigious repair work in the Middle East and North Africa," he said. "We have to change our thinking.  We have to find a way to wage peace."

Chafee, an outspoken critic of American intervention in Iraq, faces a steep uphill climb in his quest for the Democratic nomination. While the Democratic field is much less crowded than the Republican side, Chafee barely registers in polls of the still-nascent campaign -- he clocks in at about 1% in most surveys. As many as 18 Republicans are expected to run in 2016.

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In his announcement speech, Chafee detailed his opposition to the Iraq War, called for an end to American drone strikes in the Middle East and said the U.S should allow indicted former NSA contractor Edward Snowden to "come home." Snowden leaked classified government documents that revealed American surveillance programs.

Chafee has gone after former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over her support for the Iraq War, calling Clinton's vote for the war "disqualifying" for the presidency. He wrote in his 2008 book that Clinton was a "Democratic Bush enabler." 

Chafee also called for America to embrace "internationalism" by adopting the metric system, saying it will help the U.S. economy.

Chafee has an interesting political background. He served in the U.S. Senate as a Republican, though he took more liberal positions on social issues. He then successfully ran for governor of Rhode Island as an Independent. Now, he has chosen to run for president as a Democrat, joining fellow contenders Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Alex Seitz-Wald contributed reporting.