Lincoln Chafee criticized Hillary Clinton for her vote to authorize the Iraq war back at the Democratic debate Tuesday, with the underdog saying he has been against the war since the beginning.
“If you’re looking at someone who made that poor decision in 2002 to go into Iraq when there was no real evidence of weapons of mass destruction, which I knew because I did my homework, that’s an indication of how someone will perform in the future. And that’s what’s important.” Chafee said.
“I recall very well being on a debate stage about 25 times with then-Senator Obama debating this issue,” Clinton responded. “After the election, he asked me to be Secretary of State. He valued my judgment. I spent a lot of time with him in the situation room going over some very difficult issues.”
Chafee, a former senator and governor from Rhode Island, has made his vote against the Iraq war a centerpiece of his campaign, and mentioned it within the first minute of the debate during his opening statement. “That was a critical time in American history, October of 2002, and I made a different judgment call,” Chafee told TIME back in May, referring to Clinton’s vote in favor of the war. “I think we should have a debate, not only as the Democratic Party first of all, but also in America about where we’re going on in the world and who can make the correct judgment calls as we go forward.”
But while Chafee often hits this point the hardest, all the other candidates on the stage besides Clinton also opposed the war. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb voted against the war in the 2002 vote, and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has been vocal in his opposition to the war. In fact, Chafee and Webb both switched their party affiliations from Republican to Democrat after the invasion of Iraq, which Chafee calls a “Republican mistake.”
The former Secretary of State (who was a senator from New York when she voted for the war) has openly regretted her decision, writing in her 2014 book Hard Choices, “I thought I had acted in good faith and made the best decision I could with the information I had. And I wasn’t alone in getting it wrong. But I still got it wrong. Plain and simple.”
Still, her vote for the war dogged her throughout her campaign against Barack Obama in 2008, and it looks like her current opponents aren’t inclined to let the issue drop.