Chafee optimistic despite polls

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Touts experience at Hampton Democratic event

By Max Sullivan

Hampton Union, September 29, 2015

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

Lincoln Chafee
Democratic presidential candidate Lincoln Chafee told Democrats at a Hampton fundraiser that he's not out of the race despite what the polls say. [Max Sullivan photo]

HAMPTON – Democratic presidential candidate Lincoln Chafee told Hampton Democrats Sunday that he still has a chance to win the nomination despite poll numbers that say otherwise.

Chafee, former Republican U.S. senator from Rhode Island who since became an independent and a Democrat, spoke to Hampton Democrats during their annual fundraiser.

He currently has 0 percent support in most polls.

Despite the polls, Chafee recalled that it was not John Kerry’s name being tossed around by many Democrats in the months leading up to the 2004 New Hampshire Primary. Still, Kerry went on to be the nominee.

“We had everyone at the table talking about who they’re going to support,” Chafee said. “By Christmas time, not one person said John Kerry. Not one person. When his name came up it was, ‘No, no, Wesley Clark, Howard Dean.’ A month later, he won New Hampshire.”

Chafee said voters who learn about his record in the Senate and as a governor of Rhode Island will ultimately find him more appealing than the other candidates. He also joked that he has “no scandals.”

“If people start to focus and get closer to December and January… I’ll put my resume up against any candidate,” Chafee said.

Chafee said he is not nearly as well funded as Democratic juggernauts like Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, but he said he’s making up for that with rigorous campaigning. Saturday was his second meeting this year with the Hampton Democrats.

“I’m not well funded, I’ll grant you. You don’t see a lot of Chafee buttons and stickers,” Chafee said. “Raise your hand if you’ve seen me at every tiny event, with six people, or four people. That’s the only advantage I have. I don’t have the money. I’ve got to show up. I’ve got to wear out the shoe leather. If you have anything, please invite me. I’ll be there.”

Chafee touted his record in the Senate, saying he voted against military action in Iraq and that he supported a policy of “prosperity through peace.” He said he believes the United States “started down the wrong track” since Sept. 11, 2001, “and we need to repair it.”

Chafee also said he’s the only candidate among Republicans or Democrats who has served on the local level, state and federal level of government. He served four consecutive terms as mayor of Warwick, R.I., starting in 1992.

“I know what happens at the town hall in Hampton. I lived it for 11 years,” Chafee said. “I know what happens in Concord, I was a governor. I know what happens in Congress because I was a senator for seven years.”

During a question and answer time, Chafee was asked how he would handle recent problems with Veterans Affairs. The man asking the question said the VA needs to be investigated by the Department of Justice.

Chafee said solving problems with care for veterans comes down to arranging budgetary priorities, “making sure we have the best care possible.”

Pressed by the man again as to whether he’ll push for veterans to receive “justice” through an investigation of the VA, Chafee replied, “I can tell you the Democrats will do a better job of that than the Republicans.”

Democrats present Saturday said the day was more about gathering as a party than it was to support one candidate. State Rep. Renny Cushing, D-Hampton, wore a Bernie Sanders sticker to the event. The day is used to raise funds for local elections for state senators and representatives.

Cushing said he was happy to hear from Chafee, as he offers a unique take on the issues since transitioning from the Republican party.

“He has an interesting perspective,” Cushing said. “He’s grown from being a Republican to an independent to a Democrat. I think that speaks volumes about the evolution of many people n New Hampshire.”

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