Former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee took to the national stage, as one of five Democrats taking part in last night’s presidential primary debate. Political Analyst Scott MacKay discusses the candidates' debate performance with RIPR's Dave Fallon.
Early in the night moderator Anderson Cooper questioned Chafee’s loyalty to the Democrats, citing his three party affiliation switches.
“You’re looking at a block of granite when it comes to the issues,” said Chafee.
“It seems like pretty soft granite,” Anderson quipped. “You’ve been a Republican, you’ve been an independent, and now you’re a Democrat.”
“On the issues I have not changed on the issues” said Chafee. “I was a liberal Republican, then I was an independent, and now I’m a proud democrat, but I have not changed on the issues”
Chafee said there was no room for a liberal Republican in the party when he became an independent. Chafee became a Democrat in 2013.
Chafee also took on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when he questioned her judgement for voting in favor of the Iraq War. Back in 2002 Chafee was the only Republican in the Senate to vote against the Iraq war. It’s a talking point he used to distance himself from Secretary Clinton. Chafee said her vote would make him question her future judgements.
“If you’re looking ahead and you’re looking at someone that made that poor decision in 2002 to go into Iraq when there was no real evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and so that’s an indication of how someone will perform in the future, and that’s what’s important,” said Chafee.
Clinton has since called the vote a mistake. In response to Chafee, Clinton touted her subsequent appointment as Secretary of State in 2009.
Chafee also set himself apart from other candidates when he expressed concern over the Hillary Clinton email scandal. In a rare moment of outright friendliness, Democratic rivals Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, shared a laugh and a handshake, after Sanders said Americans were sick of hearing about Clinton’s emails, to thunderous applause.
Chafee, however, said the former secretary of state’s use of a private email server amounts to an issue of public trust.
“Credibility is an issue, out there with the world, and we have repair work to be done,” said Chafee. “I think we need someone who has the best in ethical standards as are next President. That’s how I feel.”
When asked whether she wanted to respond Clinton simply said “no.”
Chafee introduced himself as a lifelong politician with no scandals in his past. But he has gained little to no traction so far in his race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
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