LACONIA — Former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee brought his bid for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination to Lakes Region Community College last night at a meeting of the Belknap County Democrats.
A one-time Republican who left that party in 2007 after losing his seat in the U.S. Senate to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, Chafee was the only Republican senator to vote against authorizing the use of force in Iraq in 2003 and said that he is proud of that vote.
''I didn't trust Bush and Cheney and I did my homework. I didn't believe them,'' said Chafee, who pointed out that Democratic frontrunner Hillary Cinton ''had this one wrong".'
Chafee, who comes from a family of liberal Republicans and was appointed to U.S. Senate to complete the term of his late father John Chafee in 1999, while serving as mayor of Warwick, Rhode Island. He won re-election in 2000 but after his defeat in 2006 became an independent and won the Rhode Island governorship in 2010 running as independent.
He supported Barack Obama in both 2008 ad 2012 and in 2013 joined the Democratic Party.
''It took me 30 years to become a Democrat,'' said Chafee, who said that after he graduated from Brown University he went to Bozeman, Montana, where he studied to become a farrier and spent the next seven years working at harness race tracks in Canada and the United States before returning to his home state where he became involved in politics.
He said that his most important political experience was working at the local level as a city councilman and then as mayor where he had to make sure that the streets were plowed and garbage was picked up.
He said that his voting record in the Senate was at odds with most his fellow Republicans but he always maintained good relations with his colleagues in the party. He did not vote for Bush as president in 2004, writing is the name of Bush's father, and opposed eliminating the estate tax and for increasing the top federal income tax rate. He also voted against drilling in the Arctic and supported a minimum wage increase. He is pro-choice and a supporter of same sex marriage.
''I voted against tax cuts and for gun safety,'' said Chafee, who said that as governor his top priorities were schools, roads and bridges and that he was proud of being able to reverse revenue cuts to higher education.
Chafee said that in foreign policy he would look to embrace international agreements, ensure that there was no torture and eavesdropping by the government and seek ways to end costly military involvements overseas so that the money can be brought back home and used for education.
He also said that he would support bringing Edward Snowden home and dropping all charges against him, maintaining that Snowden had not given away secrets but instead had turned the evidence of widespread spying on American people to the New York Times.
He also called for conversion to the metric system, maintaining that it would help American manufacturers to be more competitive in the global marketplace.
Former State Representative Lisa DiMartino of Glford, center, talks with Democratic presidential candidate Lincon Chafee, right, at a meeting of Belknap County Democrats held at Lakes Region Community College Wednesday night. At left is Dave Pollak of Laconia, who was elected as Belknap County Democratic Party chairman at the meeting. (Roger Amsden photo)
Former Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee brought his presidential campaign to a meeting of the Belknap County Democrats at Lakes Region Community College in Laconia Wednesday night. (Roger Amsden photo)
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