Skip to comments.Chafee ends speculation: He'll remain a Republican
Posted on 11/09/2004 7:04:16 AM PST by BlackRazor
Chafee ends speculation: He'll remain a Republican
After angering many in his party with Election Day comments, the senator says he was partly swayed by GOP leaders in the Senate.
BY JOHN E. MULLIGAN Journal Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee said yesterday that he will remain in the Republican fold and "work hard to regain the support" of Republicans upset over his Election Day comments on his vote against President Bush and his consideration of a party switch.
Chafee said he would also reach out to Mr. Bush "at the proper time," adding, "I wouldn't blame him if he were angry at me."
Chafee has publicly wavered on his support for the president for more than a year. He first endorsed Mr. Bush, then withdrew the endorsement. Later he renewed his support but finally disclosed what he called a "symbolic protest" vote for former President George H.W. Bush.
In an Election Day interview that raised eyebrows from Rhode Island to Washington, Chafee also said he would not rule out quitting the GOP.
Yesterday the senator said, "I think it's really important to Rhode Island that I caucus with the Republicans," since the voters gave Mr. Bush a second term and bolstered the GOP's majorities in the House and the Senate.
Asked whether he would now rule out leaving his party, Chafee said, "Yes, at this stage, that is my intention." He explained that he is reluctant to pledge to remain a Republican "forever."
Chafee said, however, that he made a commitment to stay in the party when Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called him the day after the election to say they value him as a member of the party.
Chafee also said he had rebuffed the invitations of Senate Democrats who had approached him since Election Day to leave the GOP. He declined to name any of the Democrats.
A few days before the election, Ken Mehlman, Mr. Bush's campaign manager, was asked about Chafee's plan to vote against the president. "That's his right," he said, declining further comment.
Chafee's decision to stay put was not a great surprise. He had long said it would be difficult for him to imagine leaving the GOP. Many observers had expressed doubt that he would leave the party at a moment when its power was rising and his leverage as a potential swing vote was diminishing.
"I find it very difficult to believe" that Chafee will leave the Republican Party, Patricia Morgan, the state Republican Party chairwoman, said last week. Morgan defended Chafee's record as a good Republican and portrayed him as a victim of prodding by reporters.
"The media forced him to make statements that were contrary to how he actually views his role," Morgan said, speaking of Chafee's months of inconclusive public musings about whether he would support Mr. Bush and remain a member of the Republican Party.
"You guys backed him into a corner," Morgan said, "and he wasn't adept enough at dealing with the media to sidestep the issue."
Chafee's Election Day remarks "damaged him a lot, and I don't know what the future holds or whether he will be able to rehabilitate that," Morgan said. Chafee has plainly raised the likelihood that some Republican will run against him in the 2006 primary, according to Morgan.
Chafee denied that he had been forced to say anything he didn't want to say. "I'm responsible for what I say," he said. "I think I am adept at sidestepping a question if I have to."
Opposition to Mr. Bush and to Republican policy is, of course, popular everyday fare in Democratic Rhode Island. Chafee's articulation of such views may enhance his popularity in the state. But his commentary last week was not as well received inside the GOP.
Political professionals find "a couple of good reasons to be stunned" by Chafee's remarks, according to Jennifer Duffy, a Senate campaign analyst for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.
"The first one is: Who would opt to be in the minority?" said Duffy.
"The second reason is just that he chose Election Day to talk about it," Duffy said, meaning that Chafee's timing rekindled doubts about his loyalty at the very moment when other Republicans were working furiously at the local, state and national level to win victory for the party.
Chafee acknowledged that he had heard from many Republicans angry about his remarks. But he also said that roughly as many people, mostly Democrats, applauded them.
Stephen Moore of the Club for Growth, a conservative fundraising organization, said the election reduced Chafee's influence. "People like Lincoln Chafee are losers, because Lincoln Chafee lost all his leverage" with the four-seat increase in the GOP majority," said Moore, whose organization this year helped to finance an unsuccessful conservative primary election challenge to Republican Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa. Specter won reelection last Tuesday.
Moore said he has no interest in bankrolling a GOP primary challenge to Chafee in 2006 because a conservative might have trouble beating him in Rhode Island and because the net effect of a bloody Republican primary could be to throw the seat to the Democrats.
"We recognize that he can be an asset" to the party, "even though he is sometimes a problem child," Moore said of Chafee.
Duffy said Chafee's Election Day remarks may make it more likely that some Senate GOP conservatives "will be okay with a primary" challenge to Chafee.
Norman Ornstein, a nonpartisan analyst with the American Enterprise Institute, said he believes that Chafee's Election Day remarks may cause "some grumbling" among conservatives in the victorious Senate Republican Conference. But in the end, Ornstein said, he doubts Chafee will be in any way punished or ostracized.
Chaffe is a Republican?
Yeah. When has Chafee ever been a Republican?
Whew. I guess we can all quit worrying about Chafee now. (/sarcasm)
Once a RINO always a RINO
Sounds pretty committed, huh?
Not only were Chafee's remarks traitorous and out of step with the nation, but they weren't in step with the direction of his own state.
Thank the Lord Almighty - I can finally sleep tonight!
So the fellow cleared the road to a conversion to the Democrats when it looked like they might just take over the Senate - then, when the Republicans cleaned up, he backtracks and becomes the loyal Republican. Even now, he hints he might jump ship if the price is right. Wow, what an asset this guy is.
Republicans are like all politicians, they will accept anyone if it aids them in garnering power.
He is only staying a Republican since we picked up seats and his defection would mean zero, zip, nada. Would bet if it was still 51 Republicans, he would have left!
Yeah, I like this part: He explained that he is reluctant to pledge to remain a Republican "forever."
This guy is really a dim bulb.
He's holding out for a better offer.
Not many would even consider joining the losing team and delegating themselves to the back of the room.
Probably found that he couldn't cut a sweet deal ($$$$$)
with Teddy the Swimmer like Jeffords. The # of these "moderates" still wouldn't put them in the majority
I must've missed when he switched from the Democrats :-(