Chafee withdraws from 2016 presidential race

WASHINGTON (WPRI) — Governor Lincoln Chafee announced Friday he is withdrawing from the 2016 Democratic Presidential race during a speech delivered at the 22nd Annual National Issues Conference of the Women’s Leadership Forum.

Chafee, 62, sent out a vague tweet late Thursday, saying he would make an announcement about his “future in the campaign” on Friday during an appearance at the Democratic National Committee’s Women’s Leadership Forum in Washington.

Chafee had been widely panned for his performance in the recent Democratic debate. He has also struggled with poor showings in the polls and practically nonexistent campaign fundraising, but nevertheless maintained he would not drop out of the race.

Eyewitness News analyst Joe Fleming said Friday that with no money and poor ratings, Chafee’s time was up.

“He fell flat on his face during that debate. As a result of it, I think he had nowhere to go. And I think that it would be questionable whether he would even be asked to be in future debates,” Fleming said. “Bernie Sanders was able to raise money, put a campaign staff together. As a result, anyone who was anti-war basically went to Bernie Sanders. They didn’t even look at Lincoln Chafee.”

Chafee said during his speech that he wishes the other Democrats in the race well, though he said he would not – as of right now – endorse one of them.

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed released a statement upon hearing the news: “Governor Chafee is an honorable, principled man. I am sure he will continue to find ways to serve and I wish him well.”

Gov. Gina Raimondo praised Chafee for his public life.

“I think we should take a minute and celebrate that,” she said Friday during a taping of WPRI 12’s Newsmakers. “Public service is hard. He gave 30 years to public service. And he’s made a decision – it’s the end of the road for him. So, good luck.”

When asked about his future, Chafee said he is going to take some time to think about his options, noting that he has already run for almost every office possible.

“Maybe school committee,” he joked. “I haven’t run for school committee yet.”

Watch Chafee’s speech below:

Annie Shalvey contributed to this report.

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