A crowded Republican presidential primary has led to more than a few candidates being called longshots for 2016. But the most unlikely candidate may actually be on the Democratic side.
Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who announced Wednesday evening that he’ll run for president in a speech at a George Mason University center in Arlington, Va., has more than a few strikes against him.
First, and most importantly, he was a Republican until after he left the U.S. Senate in 2007 and an independent until 2013, in the latter half of his single term as governor. He also has low national name recognition, with a May poll from Quinnipiac University showing only one percent support among Democratic-leaning voters, compared to a sweeping 57 percent for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Even worse, Chafee doesn’t even get high marks in his own state. A 2013 poll from Brown University showed his approval rating at just 26 percent, one likely reason he did not run for re-election as governor the following year. When he announced that decision, Chafee complained about the “irrational negativity” he faced in office.
Chafee’s problems are also technical. His wife, Stephanie, recently posted on Facebook asking if any of his former staffers could remember how to log in to his official Facebook page.
Still, he is pushing ahead. “I enjoy challenges and certainly we have many facing America. Today, I am formally entering the race for the Democratic nomination for president,” Chafee said Wednesday.
He hopes to use foreign policy to get an edge on Clinton. Already, Chafee has cited his vote against the Iraq war and Clinton’s vote for it. In a pre-announcement video, he also replayed a portion of former President Dwight Eisenhower’s farewell address, which helped popularize the term “military-industrial complex.”
“I believe events occurring around the world threaten our economy and all that we hold dear,” Chafee said in the video. “I would argue that the decision to invade Iraq has destabilized the Middle East and far beyond.”
Chafee also endorsed moving the United States to the metric system.
“Let’s join the rest of the world and go metric,” he said. “It will help our economy.”