Lincoln Chafee's Stance On Foreign Policy Could Give Hillary Clinton A True Competitor In The Presidential Race
When he announced Wednesday that he will run for president, former Governor of Rhode Island Lincoln Chafee proved he's making foreign policy a priority. This makes sense, not just because of the present threats posed by groups like ISIS and Boko Haram, but also because Chafee is a Republican-turned-Democrat — and because he's going up against Hillary Clinton.
Chafee announced his campaign at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. He also posted a short video on Twitter, in which he laid out his priorities as a presidential hopeful. In the video, Chafee mentions things like investing in public schools and supporting disadvantaged Americans, but where he really focuses is foreign policy. His plan includes a moderate approach that seems to reflect both his Republican roots and his more liberal leanings.
Our Founders designed the great seal with the eagle's talons holding both arrows and olive branches. I believe that with the proper meshing of a strong military with a commitment to peace, we can achieve security and sustainability.
Chafee prides himself on being able to stand up to his party and vote independently on issues of foreign policy. As a Republican in the U.S. Senate, Chafee was the only member of his party to vote against the invasion of Iraq. Now as a Democrat running for the role of commander-in-chief, he's using his foreign policy record to appeal to voters. "I voted against the Iraq War," he said in this latest video. "I knew it was based on lies."
Chafee's foreign policy experience could spell trouble for Democratic superstar Clinton. The former Secretary of State has faced tough criticism on virtually all things foreign policy, especially Benghazi. What's more, Clinton, who was also a U.S. senator in 2002, voted in favor of the invasion of Iraq, which ultimately failed to find weapons of mass destruction. Chafee's challenge comes at a time when Clinton faces her lowest approval rating since 2001, according to a CNN/ORC poll. In fact, a not-negligible 58 percent of people are dissatisfied with the way she handled the Benghazi attack in 2012, according to the same poll.
Getting back to that campaign video, Chafee seems to take direct aim at Clinton's foreign policy shortcomings. "We need fresh ideas and the most skillful diplomacy," he said. (Them's fightin' words when you're running against a seasoned diplomat.) On his campaign website, Chafee argues that the Iraq War caused the U.S. to lose not just lives, but credibility. If elected, Chafee promises to use "brains and not biceps" to solve the world's security problems. Combined with the "strong military" comment from his campaign video, Chafee seems to promote a Teddy Roosevelt-esque approach to foreign policy, à la "speak softly, and carry a big stick."
Will Chafee's foreign policy approach be enough to overcome Clinton? It's impossible to know — but it's probably his best shot.