Former GOP Chafee heads to Florida to stump for Obama10:40 AM Mon, Sep 01, 2008 | Permalink
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Former Sen. Lincoln Chafee is headed for the Gulf Coast area to join in some repair work -- not on hurricane damage, but on the republic.
The Rhode Islander will try to rally independents and Republicans to help elect Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama so that he can undo some of the damage that, in Chafee's view, the Bush administration has done to the country. Last month he joined the Republicans for Obama campaign.
Judging from a telephone interview this morning, the former Republican has been watching the news of his former profession -- and practicing his stump speech.
``My main point is that the 2008 election is very, very important,'' Chafee said, describing what he will tell voters at campaign stops Tuesday and Wednesday in Fort Myers, Sarasota, St. Petersburg and Orlando.
``We have a lot of repair work to do on the economy and on international relations in particular,'' he said.
Chafee, the only Senate Republican to vote against the 2002 resolution that paved the way for the U.S. invasion of Iraq, said American credibility around the world has also suffered under President Bush.
Chafee said Obama this year has exhibited ``the best message, the best vision and the best-run'' presidential campaign. Answering the charge that the Illinois senator lacks experience, Chafee said Obama has been ``the CEO of an extraordinarily impressive campaign.''
On that point, the one-time mayor of Warwick declined to join in the criticism of the resume of GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, a former small-town mayor who is now governor of a small-population state.
``It doesn't matter if it's a small town or a big town,'' Chafee said. A public official ``can exhibit character and positive traits'' in any office.
But even though the vice presidency doesn't involve ``much job duty,'' Chafee said, ``the possibility of being in the Oval Office is a whole different thing'' from Palin's experience to date in Alaska politics.
Chafee, who now teaches politics at Brown University, expressed doubt about the wisdom of former colleague McCain's selection of Palin as a running mate.
As a matter of campaign politics, Chafee challenged the conventional wisdom that Palin's selection will rouse GOP conservatives who had not been enthusiastic about McCain. He said Palin appears to be a gesture to a part of the Republican electorate that does not need shoring up.
``I always thought that the base wouldn't have anywhere to go,'' Chafee said. Having lost control of the House and Senate, the conservative base should be ``sufficiently motivated'' by the prospect of losing the White House, he said.