Touting anti-war credentials, Chafee launches presidential bid

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As had been expected for several months, a familiar face to Rhode Islanders is making another foray into presidential politics.

Lincoln Chafee, a former Warwick mayor, governor and U.S. senator, plans to seek the Libertarian Party’s nomination for president in this year’s election.

Chafee will address the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday morning – and according to a press release, he will discuss “the current crisis in the Middle East” and make “make an announcement concerning the 2020 Presidential race.”

Following the speech, Chafee plans to attend state Libertarian conventions in New Hampshire and Tennessee on Jan. 11, as well as other state conventions across the country leading up to the national Libertarian convention in Austin, Texas, this May.

“I have some work to do meeting delegates across the country,” he said in a telephone interview Monday from outside Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where he and his wife now reside.

A website, LincolnForLiberty.com, has been set up for fundraising. “Thirty Years, Zero Scandals,” the site reads. “Mayor. Governor. Senator. Libertarian. Lincoln Leads With Truth. Protect Our Freedoms. Tell The Truth. No More Wars. No More Reckless Spending.”

On Monday, Chafee didn’t venture to estimate how much he would need to raise to run his campaign. He said he has established an account and money is starting to trickle in.

Chafee acknowledged third parties don’t have a good track record of winning elections in this country, but that isn’t stopping him.

“There has got to be a voice out there addressing these issues,” he said.

Chafee said the recent drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Iraq solidified his decision to seek the Libertarian Party’s nomination.

“There’s no end in sight. The Republicans and the Democrats are just getting deeper and deeper,” he said of U.S. involvement in the Middle East. Rather than bringing peace to the region, he said involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Iran is just “escalating.”

“Now it is Iran, it has got to stop,” he said of American involvement and loss of lives.

In the press release, Chafee touts his record as the lone Republican member of the U.S. Senate to vote against the 2002 resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq.

“As the lone senator who bucked his party to vote NO on the Iraq War authorization, it sickens me to think that the lies of administrations past have turned into the ongoing problems we face today. We must work towards an America at peace with the world, and end these senseless and counterproductive wars,” Chafee states in the press release.

He continues: “The Libertarian Party is the only party that has consistently opposed our aggressive overseas entanglements … I’m proud to stand up for truth as an Anti-War Libertarian and say loudly and clearly that I am already against the next war.”

The Libertarian bid marks the latest chapter in Chafee’s long, and winding, political career.

The son of the late Republican U.S. Sen. John Chafee, he was as a member of the Warwick City Council before being elected mayor in 1992. He served in that post until 1999, when he was appointed by Gov. Lincoln Almond to fill the Senate seat left vacant by the elder Chafee’s death.

Chafee won a full term in the Senate seat in 2000 but lost his 2006 reelection bid to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse. In 2010, as an independent, Chafee was elected governor of Rhode Island. He joined the Democratic Party in 2013 before announcing later that year that he would not seek a new term as governor.

In 2016, Chafee launched a brief campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. He relocated to Wyoming, and in March of this year, he again switched his partisan affiliation, this time joining the Libertarian Party.

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