Lincoln Chafee on Principles & Values

Democratic presidential challenger; Independent RI Governor; Republican Senator (1999-2007)


I've been a mayor, a Senator, & a Governor--with no scandals

Not only will Americans be electing a new president next year, we also will be electing a world leader. Voters should assess the candidate's experience, character and vision for the future as they make this important decision.

I'm the only one running for president that has been a mayor, a United States senator, and a governor. As mayor, I brought labor peace to my city and kept taxes down. I was reelected three times. As a senator, I earned a reputation for courageous votes against the Bush-Cheney tax cuts the favored the wealthy, against the tragedy of the Iraq war, for environmental stewardship, for protection of our civil liberties. I served on the Foreign Relations Committee and I chaired the Middle East Subcommittee for four years

I'm very proud that over my almost 30 years of public service, I have had no scandals. I've always been honest. I have the courage to take the long-term view, and I've shown good judgment. I have high ethical standards.

Source: 2015 CNN Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas , Oct 13, 2015

I'm a block of granite on the issues, but not on party

Q: You've been a Democrat for little more than two years. Why should voters trust you won't change again?

CHAFEE: You're looking at a block of granite when it comes to the issues. I have not changed on the issues. I was a liberal Republican, then an independent, and now I'm a Democrat. But I have not changed on the issues. Whether it's the environment, a woman's right to choose, gay marriage, fiscal responsibility, aversion to foreign entanglements, using government to help the less fortunate.

Source: 2015 CNN Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas , Oct 13, 2015

The Republican Party changed and I never changed

Q: You have an unusual history when it comes to party affiliation. You were appointed to the Senate back in 1999 as a Republican to fill the seat of your late father. You lost to a Democrat then you ran for governor as an independent. Now, you're a Democrat considering a run for president. Why?

CHAFEE: As far as my evolution, certainly the Republican Party changed and I never changed. And as I became an independent and one governorship as an independent, my values never changed whether it's on fiscal responsibility or on environment issues or on using the tools of government to help the less fortunate, keeping us out of the quagmires we see overseas. I've never changed. Protecting civil liberties and now I'm a Democrat. I'm very comfortable as a Democrat and look forward to the primaries and the debate ahead.

Source: CNN SOTU 2015 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Apr 12, 2015

1994: two dozen moderate GOP Senators; by 1999: only 5

In the decades before the seismic congressional elections of 1994, 2 dozen moderate Republican senators would meet for lunch in the US Capital every Wednesday.

By 1999, when I became the Republican senator from Rhode Island, the party had drifted so far right that only 5 Republicans were willing to be seen at the moderates' table on Wednesdays. We had no one there from, say, Wyoming or Kansas anymore. Our most senior member was Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. Like me, the rest were New Englanders: Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, and James Jeffords of Vermont, who would later quit the party to become an Independent.

The real action was at the Conservative Steering Committee, which had probably started out at a table for 5 and then grew to include almost the entire Republican caucus.

Source: Against the Tide, by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, p. 1-2 , Apr 1, 2008

2000: GOP promised Americans an end to political conflict

[At a meeting of GOP moderates] we sat there and listened as Cheney made divisive pronouncements of policy that would come as a complete surprise to many of the Americans who had voted to elect the Bush-Cheney ticket.

The contentious and destructive agenda that Cheney dropped on us was troubling enough, but what really unnerved me was his attitude. He welcomed conflict. We Republicans had promised America exactly the opposite.

Cheney tore our best campaign promises to shreds and the moderates acquiesced instead of pelting him with outrage. It was clear to me then that there would be no key bloc of moderate votes helping to shape legislation and reunite America over the next 4 years. In any event, Cheney was not asking for support--he was ordering us to provide it. The president-elect had his agenda; we were just along for the ride.

My heart sank as my colleagues peeled away, one by one. It was the most demoralizing moment of my 7-year tenure in the Senate.

Source: Against the Tide, by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, p. 8-10 , Apr 1, 2008

Mayor of Warwick RI, as the All-But-Lone Republican

I was mayor of Warwick, Rhode Island, a city of 90,000 on scenic Greenwich Bay. I had governed successfully for 7 years as the All-But-Lone Republican. My party never held more than 2 of 9 seats on the city council. We had our battles, but Democrats knew I was fair and kept my word and that I respected them. My Democratic council president and a rival for my job, once honored me by telling reporter, on the record, "His word is gold." On the whole, our two branches of government made Warwick a better city by negotiating differences and, in most cases, cooperating once we had ironed them out as best we could.
Source: Against the Tide, by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, p. 19 , Apr 1, 2008

As mayor, I'd rather take a beating than be a no-show

In my first few weeks in office, a crew excavating for a new sewer line dislodged a natural gas pipe. Gas seeped through the ground into a family's home, fortunately unoccupied at the time. When the thermostat kicked on and made a spark, the house exploded. It was a miracle that no one was killed.

We had a meeting about it, and the room was packed. Residents were understandably frightened and angry, and I wanted us to listen and not say anything that would raise the pitch. My supporters said, "Don't go to these things. Send low-level bureaucrats who don't have to stand for reelection."

That struck me as not only poor leadership but poor politics. I would rather take a beating than be labeled a no-show. I wanted to explain my point of view and take my chances on winning people over as best I could. That is a huge part of the art of politics, and, more important, governing. I think Warwick people liked that I did business that way. By 1994, I was tested, scarred, and comfortable as mayor.

Source: Against the Tide, by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, p. 27-28 , Apr 1, 2008

1999: Appointed to Senate when his father died

My father gave me his best advice on both the personal and political dimensions of life in Washington. He saw that a rare chance was opening in Rhode Island for another Republican to go to the Senate, and I decided to step through it.

I will always feel sadness that Dad died before I won the race to succeed him. He died in office before he got to enjoy even a single day of retirement he had announced. He had undergone back surgery in the summer of 1999, and though he returned to work in Washington I could see that he had never fully recovered. He died suddenly that October.

Assuming his duties by appointment made for a jarring transition. One day I was raising money and building support for my Senate run, the next day I was the incumbent senator.

Source: Against the Tide, by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, p. 32 , Apr 1, 2008

2004 election: Voted for George H. W. Bush, underlining "H"

I voted for George W. Bush but resolved not to make that mistake again in 2004. It was a problem because I had always voted the straight Republican ticket and wanted to be able to say I had never voted Democratic when a Republican was on the ballot.

I knew I could not vote for John Kerry in 2004. His campaign had cast real doubt on his judgment as far as I was concerned. I planned to write in a Republican candidate of my choosing.

"How can you vote for George Bush when you oppose everything he wants to do or isn't doing about the environment?", reporters asked.

I said, "Who said I'm voting for George Bush?" The feeding frenzy was on.

Voting for the president's father would make the point that there was nothing personal in my criticism of the president. I just could not abide his habit of saying one thing and doing another. On election day, I wrote the name George H.W. Bush on my ballot. Than I underlined the "H".

Source: Against the Tide, by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, p.124-125 , Apr 1, 2008

Real flag desecration is ignoring the First Amendment

This Republican-sponsored amendment to the constitution would create a restriction on the First Amendment. It would authorize Congress to pass laws fining or jailing anyone who desecrated the flag.

Everyone knew the flag desecration vote would be close. Veterans groups were energized on the issue and were after me to vote in favor. In meetings with veterans I argued that almost no one desecrates the flag. I had not seen an American protester burn an American flag in 30 years. It was just plain wrong and irresponsible to use our own partisan political agenda to poison 50 statehouses with the emotional nonissues.

The House passed the amendment by the required 2/3 majority. After a dramatic call of the roll on a proposal to amend our Constitution, it failed by one vote. I had never been prouder to cast a vote, a vote to uphold the 1st Amendment. I found many of the yea votes baffling. Using the flag for political gain was the real desecration.

Source: Against the Tide, by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, p.182-184 , Apr 1, 2008

Disenchanted centrist voters will seek 3rd-party candidate

If one or both parties do not start heeding the center, the voters will make a tectonic shift in politics on their own. They will leave their most partisan fellow citizens behind, in ever shrinking tents of red and blue.

I believe this is the way forward in American politics: centrist Americans, disenchanted with Republicans and Democrats alike, coalescing around 3rd party candidates who are focused on the future; on solving, not exploiting, the problems we face, whether those problems were thrust upon us by others, or we foolishly brought them on ourselves.

The next mass movement of American voters may come out of an existing party apparatus, such as the Greens or the Libertarians; but it seems more likely to gather around a personality first, than a platform.

When a 3rd way mounts a serious challenge to the Republican and Democratic parties, I suspect it will come out of nowhere and gather strength with surprising speed.

Source: Against the Tide, by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, p.239-241 , Apr 1, 2008

The Club for Growth is pouring the money for Laffey

There痴 no coordination between the campaign and these outside groups. This is the same for Laffey. But when he says I知 going down to fight the special interests in Washington, when the goliath, when the great white shark of special interests is part and parcel of his campaign, he痴 in their pocket. I find that once again extremely hypocritical. The Club for Growth is pouring the money into this Rhode Island race, almost 100% of it not for Laffey but attacking Chafee. Mostly erroneously, I値l add.
Source: 2006 R.I. Republican Senate Primary debate on WPRI , Aug 24, 2006

Being deliberate and responsible is not indecisive

I have an important, responsible job and I like to take my time at times. Be deliberate. Go through the evidence. And make a good decision. I知 responsible for every vote I take. I take that very seriously because I知 going to be held accountable for that vote & many have tremendous ramification on the future of this country. I知 doing my job when I take my time to listen to the evidence & talk to different people. If someone wants to interpret that as indecisive, I値l argue and reject that criticism
Source: 2006 R.I. Republican Senate Primary debate on WPRI , Aug 24, 2006

Vote my conscience while keeping good relations with GOP

My record voting with the administration is spotty at best. I try to support the team when I can but I vote my conscience and I work hard with my leadership to let them know why I知 voting the way I知 voting and to explain myself and then eventually, hopefully, to change their point of view to my point of view. But so when that doesn稚 work out, oftentimes I vote against my leadership. But I keep good relations with them and that has paid off for Rhode Island by delivering for Rhode Island.
Source: 2006 R.I. Republican Senate Primary debate on WPRI , Aug 24, 2006

#1 on Human Events list of Top Ten RINOs

Chafee ranks #1 on the list Top 10 RINOs, ranked by the editors of Human Events (a conservative publication).
Once approached by Democratic Leader Harry Reid to switch parties, Chafee has long supported liberal policies. He backs legal abortion, gay rights, federal-funded health care, strict environmental protections and a higher minimum wage. Opposes ANWR drilling. Also was the only Republican in Congress not to endorse the President痴 reelection and one of three who tried to gut Bush痴 tax cuts.
What痴 a RINO? Wikipedia.com explains:
RINO stands for Republican In Name Only, a disparaging term for a member of the Republican Party who is thought to be too fiscally or socially moderate or even liberal. Those labeled RINOs counter that the conservatives who call them RINOs are too far right and politically naive. They point out that they win in moderate and liberal areas and without their votes the Republicans would lose control of Congress.
Source: HumanEventsOnline.com, end-of-year issue , Dec 27, 2005

Voted NO on confirming Samuel Alito as Supreme Court Justice.

Vote on the Nomination -- a YES vote would to confirm Samuel A. Alito, Jr., of New Jersey, to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Reference: Alito Nomination; Bill PN 1059 ; vote number 2006-002 on Jan 31, 2006

Voted YES on confirming John Roberts for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Vote on the Nomination (Confirmation John G. Roberts, Jr., of Maryland, to be Chief Justice of the United States )
Reference: Supreme Court Nomination of John Roberts; Bill PN 801 ; vote number 2005-245 on Sep 27, 2005

Endorsed Endorsed by Log Cabin Republicans; supports gay rights.

Chafee is endorsed by by the Log Cabin Republicans:

Log Cabin Republicans is the nation痴 largest gay and lesbian Republican organization. Log Cabin was founded to battle the nation痴 first anti-gay ballot measure -- California痴 Proposition 6 in 1978. We enlisted Ronald Reagan to publicly oppose the measure, which was then defeated. Since then, Log Cabin Republicans has grown and expanded to become a leading voice on the national stage on behalf of the mainstream concerns of the gay and lesbian community.

We care deeply about equality and we hold Republican views on crime, fiscal responsibility, and foreign policy. We believe in individual rights rather than group rights. We believe in limited government rather than big government. We believe that free markets lead to free people and that all Americans should be able to participate fully in the political process.

We represent the next generation for the gay and lesbian community. No longer will we be told where we must live, how we must dress, and how we must vote. Now there is a political alternative. We know that we will move ahead only when gay people are honest about who they really are. And as the far right continues its drive to dominate our Party, Log Cabin Republicans joins other mainstream Republicans on the front lines of the battle for the Republican Party痴 future.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Log Cabin Republicans is to work within the Republican Party for the equal rights of all Americans, including gay men and women. The mission of the Log Cabin Republicans derives from our firm belief in the principles of limited government, individual liberty, individual responsibility, free markets and a strong national defense. We emphasize that these principles and the moral values that underlie them are consistent with the pursuit of equal treatment under the law for gay men and women. We believe these same core principles also best serve the best interests of the gay community.
Source: Log Cabin Republicans web site 00-LCR0 on Nov 7, 2000

Member of the Republican Main Street Partnership .

Chafee is a member the Republican Main Street Partnership:

The Republican Main Street Partnership was founded in 1998 to promote thoughtful leadership in the Republican Party, to serve as a voice for centrist Republicans and to partner with individuals, organizations and institutions that share centrist values.

The Partnership pursues public policies that reflect a limited, but responsible role for government and that are designed to achieve fiscal responsibility, economic growth, improvements in the human condition and a nation that is globally competitive and secure. Partnership members include individuals who are interested in moderate Republican policies, focusing on governance and on finding common sense solutions to national problems.

The Republican Main Street Partnership is an organization of party members and public officials committed to building America's principled but pragmatic center within the Republican Party and throughout the nation. The Partnership contributes to the nation's governance through developing and promoting creative public policies for implementation at appropriate levels of government.
Source: RMSP web site 01-RMSP0 on Jan 1, 2001

Other candidates on Principles & Values: Lincoln Chafee on other issues:
2016 Presidential Candidates:
Donald Trump(R-NY)
Gov.Mike Pence(R-IN,VP)
Secy.Hillary Clinton(D-NY)
Sen.Tim Kaine(D-VA,VP)
Gov.Gary Johnson(L-NM)
Gov.Bill Weld(L-MA,VP)
Dr.Jill Stein(G-MA)
Ajamu Baraka(G-VP)
Roseanne Barr(PF-HI)
Evan McMullin(I)
2016 Withdrawn Democratic Candidates:
Gov.Lincoln Chafee(RI)
Gov.Martin O`Malley(MD)
Sen.Bernie Sanders(VT)
Sen.Jim Webb(VA)
2016 Withdrawn GOP Candidates:
Gov.Jeb Bush(FL)
Dr.Ben Carson(MD)
Gov.Chris Christie(NJ)
Sen.Ted Cruz(TX)
Carly Fiorina(CA)
Gov.Mike Huckabee(AR)
Gov.Bobby Jindal(LA)
Gov.John Kasich(OH)
Sen.Rand Paul(KY)
Sen.Marco Rubio(FL)
Sen.Rick Santorum(PA)
Gov.Scott Walker(WI)
Civil Rights
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Social Security
Tax Reform

About Lincoln Chafee:
AmericansElect quiz
MyOcracy quiz

Page last updated: Oct 01, 2016