Lincoln Chafee officially launches 2016 presidential bid

Photos: 2016 Presidential Candidates »

ARLINGTON, Va. (WPRI) — Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee has officially opened his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in the 2016 election.

Chafee gave a speech Wednesday night at George Mason University’s Center for Politics and Foreign Relations in Virginia.

In his speech he covered a wide range of topics, including our deteriorating infrastructure (a particularly relevant issue back home), increased investment in schools, climate change, and foreign policy – namely disengaging from the wars overseas.

“We must deliberately and carefully extricate ourselves from expensive wars. Just think about how better this money could be spent,” he said.

It was no surprise he suggested the United States join other countries in banning capital punishment, lauding Nebraska’s recent efforts in doing so. Chafee is an outspoken opponent of the death penalty, and two years ago was at the center of a legal fight to keep accused murderer Jason Pleau from receiving such a fate. Pleau was eventually sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Chafee also strongly suggested we as a country transition to using the metric system, as we are one of only three countries left to so.

“I happened to live in Canada as they completed the process. Believe me it is easy,” he said. “It doesn’t take long before 34 degrees is hot.”

Chafee was mayor of the city of Warwick, a senator in Washington, and governor of Rhode Island, where he ended up leaving under a cloud of a low approval rating.

Chafee is not well-known in a field already laden with some heavyweights, including frontrunner Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, as well as former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley.

Why is he a better choice?

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Photos: Candidates ready to run in 2016 election »

He has stated time and again Hillary Clinton shouldn’t lead the country because she voted in favor of the Iraq War in 2002.

Chafee also told Eyewitness News last month he has confidence in his vision for the country. “My record will speak for itself.”

His campaign website,, says the middle class needs to be boosted (“Today’s system is stacked against too many American families”), and holds environmental stewardship important (“Responsible environmental stewardship can coexist with economic strength”) along with the protection of personal liberties. He also professes an “aversion to foreign entanglements” (“Only 23 of 100 U.S. Senators saw the folly of allowing Bush/Cheney to invade Iraq. I am very proud to be one of the 23”).

Following Chafee’s announcement, Democratic National Commitee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz released the following statement:

“With Lincoln Chafee making it official that he will seek the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2016, his entrance is a welcome addition to the race. His commitment to public service has led him to answer the call at every level of government – at the local, state, and national levels. Throughout his career, he has consistently demonstrated the conviction to do what he felt was best for the people he represents.

“As a former Republican, Lincoln Chafee can help make the case that his old party no longer represents the best interests of the American people. The Democratic Party is the natural home for those of us who share the values and priorities of middle class families. I look forward to Governor Chafee sharing the stage with Secretary Clinton, Senator Sanders, Governor O’Malley and each of the candidates who will help Democrats make that argument for the American people.”

Below is a Q&A with Eyewitness News anchor Steve Nielsen, who was in Virginia for the event.


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