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 :-(
Nobody wants to be on the losing team, Chafee included. The goal is to get the dims to switch.
Can anyone say "Primary"?
Norman Ornstein is nonpartisan?
Chafee: one who chafes.
Chafee is of course no help on most legislative issues, but I doubt very much that many freepers are even aware that he voted with the President and with the GOP caucus, repeatedly, throughout 2003-04, against the RAT filibuster of our judges.
Notwithstanding this crucial support, Hell, let's purge him and every other moderate in our caucus and turn the Senate gavel over to the RATS. Ideological purity at all costs. Yep, that'll help the President get his judges confirmed and his legislative agenda enacted.
Hehehe. Reverse Damascus Road conversion?
Just shutting his mouth would show more respect for his father.
Getting into another line of work is a good idea too.
Is there anybody in Rhode Island that can be persuaded to run against this spineless little RINO in 2006? The republicans need to weed out the RINO incumbents wherever possible.
I guess he got to thinking, and realized it would really SUCK to be a dim-o-crat right now.
Let Chafee remain as long as he is useful. Not a second longer. After his comments he simply cannot be trusted.
Of course: it didn't matter. His vote wasn't needed.
If he votes to end filibusters against pro-life nominees this session they will pass and he will lose his job.
Great, a real powerhouse of a senator...way to be RI, next time pick a man with some cajones -
Of course his vote was needed, and it will be needed going forward. We were only 2,3,4 votes short of getting the 60 we need.
I haven't a clue of where you are coming from.
Ms. Morgan, you need to find a new job if you advocate lying about positions, especially about supporting the President. The party does not need your type. You'd be better off with the Democrats where that sort of thing is standard.
As for Chafee, he should have the courage to be who he is: A Kerry Democrat. He puts his finger in the air and waffles based on the direction of the political wind. He has no courage. He has no conviction. We don't need him. We are better off losing with a genuine Republican that winning with a dishonest RINO.
Of course he will remain a Republican. Only in a warped democrat mind would someone drop out of the majority party, thus losing status, power, and pork just for the leftist cause. One looks at the utter stupidity of Jim Jeffords, who switched himself into irrelevancy.
Mr. Chafee, Goodbye!
Of course, they can switch parties; that is one's perogative. But LEAVE the damn office and let the people appoint a successor until the next free election.
i don't know how you could not be aware of that.
Now, as you youeself frequently point out, it will be a very near thing whether a filibuster of a reasonable pro-life judge can succeed. Now, the votes of our moderates will be needed to stop the nominees.
They can't hide behind the Dems like they did before.
Our moderates didn't get their high NARAL ratings from voting against their voters' wishes on the filibusters.
Unless the filibuster is changed nominees will only be approved if they are acceptable to moderates with NARAL ratings of 83 to 90. Or if our moderates vote against their constituents' wishes.
It's a sure recipe for giving those seats to Dems.
Oh gee...aren't we lucky? I'm sick of Chafee, Snow, Collins and Specter. We should count the as 'Rats, they're more liberal than most actual 'Rats, and work with our 51 seat majority.
Watching Chaffee continue to "refine" his position puts me in mind of what it must be like to fight alongside indigenous forces, that a marine must always watch with his "third" combat eye, perhaps like an occasional Iraqi.
When the locals move to melt away into the tall grass, it becomes obvious that the "early exit polling" staged by the propagandists is having it's intended effect.
Kind of like roaring back in that swiftboat when it's obvious that those who stood their ground and risked the fire, were doing their duty in what turned out to be a secure area.
It's odd how later, when the tide of battle becomes apparent, and the shots die down, that the tall grass suddenly re-disgorges so many loyal locals eager to look for spoils.
I'd sure like to have Chafee at my back in a dustup. We sure need more like him.
Senator Lincoln Chafee (R)
Republican, Years of Service: 4
|ACU Ratings for Senator Chafee:|
On the other hand, the other Senator from the state, Jack Reed, has a lifetime ACU rating of 9% so I suppose it could be worse.
For comparison, here are three of the other worst RINOS in the Senate:
Senator Olympia Snowe (R)
Republican, Years of Service: 25
|ACU Ratings for Senator Snowe:|
Senator Susan Collins (R)
Republican, Years of Service: 7
|ACU Ratings for Senator Collins:|
There is not much sense complaining about Chaffee when we put up the likes of Specter, who has just as poor a record as Chaffee, and over a lot longer period of time, although in fairness, he seems to be voting more conservatively lately...
Senator Arlen Specter (R)
Republican, Years of Service: 23
|ACU Ratings for Senator Specter:|
The GOP needs to keep all these RINOs out of critical committee chairmanships if they want to keep their ball rolling. These RINOs probably see it is not in their best interests to jump ship and end up completely rejected and marginalized like Jeffords.
He explained that he is reluctant to pledge to remain a Republican "forever."
Hey, after he retires or loses office he can be a Greenie for all I care.
Nice handle, BTW Blackrazor - were you a D & D player?
Some RINOs vote liberal some of the time in order to placate their constituents and remain in office. But in the clinch, they vote with the leadership. The leadership is happy to let them vote with the Dems on bills where the vote doesn't really matter.
Lincoln Chaffee is a different matter. He is far to the left of where he needs to be to get elected. He votes on the wrong side on key votes. He cannot be trusted.
This latest pledge of loyalty is obviously all about me, me, me. He knows if he switches parties now he will lose power, be in the minority, and gain nothing. So he will go along with the leadership until the next opportunity arises to stab them in the back.
Personally, I think he puts up this act every couple of years as a show to play to the people back home. He knows his existence as a Republican in RI is probably somewhat tenuous. So he probably figures if he makes a great show about being a liberal Republican, not really in step with the national GOP, floating the idea of becoming an independent or Democrat, it helps his cause and image with the voters in Rhode Island.
Your post makes absolutely no sense. The filibuster is what killed getting our judges confirmed. We needed every vote we could muster. It would have been in Chafee's political interest to vote FOR the filibuster, not AGAINST it. Chafee voted with the president on his judicial nominees, and we continue to need his help on getting to 60 votes.
As a liberal GOPer, he holds a great deal of influence and can and will be courted by both sides during close votes, plus regular attention from the GOP majority that wants him to be "on board" as much as possible due to the kinda thin majority they have in the Senate.
He switches, and he's just another Dem from a very safe Dem state.
Why would he consider switching?
Well, at least he isn't completely stupid. He probably saw how much fun Senator Jeffords as a turncoat had after the Dems lost control of the Senate in 2002.
Chafee and Hagel both understand that. If you are going to jump party affiliation, only do it when you are currently a minority and jumping to the majority; the reverse can make the jump hell to pay.