Rhode Island's Chafee enters 2016 Democratic contest

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Clinton Critic Lincoln Chafee Expected to Run for President

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton has a third underdog challenger for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee entered the race Wednesday, casting himself as an anti-war candidate who opposed the invasion of Iraq back when Clinton supported it.

"We must deliberately and carefully extricate ourselves from expensive wars," Chafee told a half-full law school classroom at George Mason University in northern Virginia. "We need to be very smart in these voluble times overseas."

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Rhode Island's Chafee enters 2016 Democratic contest
Today I am formally entering the race for the Democratic nomination for President #Chafee2016
If we as leaders show good judgement and make good decisions, we can fix much of what is ailing us #Chafee2016
I believe that education/infrastructure/health care/environmental stewardship & a strong middle class are Americans’ priorities #Chafee2016
We need to be smart during these volatile times overseas #chafee2016
I want America to be a leader and inspiration for civilized behavior in this new century #chafee2016
For more on my vision for our country visit http://t.co/xNYPDxIs2T
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He said, "Today I'm formally entering the race for the Democratic nomination for president."

With his announcement, Chafee became the biggest longshot among Clinton rivals who have a long way to go to avoid becoming historical footnotes in the 2016 campaign.

Chafee, a former Republican turned independent who joined the Democratic Party two years ago, has made little effort to set up a competitive campaign operation, beyond a few visits and calls to activists in the early voting states of New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina.

The policy prescriptions in his speech included some probable non-starters, such as moving the U.S. to the metric system.

He also called for an end to capital punishment, said National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden should be let back into the U.S. without punishment, proposed repairing relations with Venezuela and said he favored an "open-minded approach" to drug trafficking.

His priority would be to end all wars.

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Rhode Island's Chafee enters 2016 Democratic contest
In this Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014 photo Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee responds to questions during an interview with The Associated Press, in his office at the Statehouse, in Providence, R.I. Chafee spoke about his legacy and future plans as he prepares to wrap up his term in office. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
COLUMBIA, SC - APRIL 25: Potential Democratic presidential candidate former Sen. Lincoln Chafee (D-RI) delivers remarks at the South Carolina Democratic Party state convention April 25, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina. Chafee joined former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in speaking to the convention. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 04: Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee speaks during day one of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on September 4, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The DNC that will run through September 7, will nominate U.S. President Barack Obama as the Democratic presidential candidate. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Dec. 11, 2014 file photo then-Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee responds to questions during an interview with The Associated Press in his office at the Statehouse, in Providence, R.I. .Chafee plans to announce his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination in a few weeks, but he's not actively raising money or putting together the infrastructure required to pay for a credible White House bid. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
President Barack Obama, right, is greeted by Gov. Lincoln Chafee, D-R.I., center, and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., after arriving to T.F. Green airport, on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014, in Warwick, R.I. Obama is traveling in Rhode Island for a fundraiser and a speech on the economy. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee delivers his State of the State address in the House chambers of the Statehouse, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014 in Providence. The annual speech traditionally sets out a governor's priorities for the year. It is Chafee's fourth and final such address. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
COLUMBIA, SC - APRIL 25: Potential Democratic presidential candidate former Sen. Lincoln Chafee (D-RI) answers questions from reporters after speaking at the South Carolina Democratic Party state convention April 25, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina. Chafee joined former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in speaking to the convention. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WARWICK, RI - NOVEMBER 7: U.S. Senator Lincoln D. Chafee (R-R.I.) gives a concession speech at the Crowne Plaza Hotel November 7, 2006 in Warwick, Rhode Island. Chafee was defeated by former Rhode Island attorney and Democratic challenger Sheldon Whitehouse. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
WOONSOCKET, RI - OCTOBER 9: Republican U.S. Senator Lincoln D. Chafee waves to the crowd while marching in the Autumn Fest Parade October 9, 2006 in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Senator Chafee is in a tight re-election campaign against former attorney general of Rhode Island Sheldon Whitehouse. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
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"Let's wage peace in this new American century," he said.

Longtime Chafee strategists and donors said earlier they know little about his intentions — or even his rationale for running.

"He's not done anything other than posture on some issues," said Mike Trainor, a former Chafee aide. "The question he's going to have to answer is what credible indications can he give that he is at all ready to run a national campaign."

Clinton has set a goal of raising $100 million for her primary bid. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who entered the race last week, has said he's already raised at least $4 million. And allies of former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley have established a super PAC to support his efforts.

All three have begun building robust campaign operations with staff across the country, a step Chafee has yet to take.

In previous campaigns, Chafee has spent significant sums from his family fortune to further his political ambitious, for example dropping $1.8 million on his 2010 governor's race. Running for president is significantly more expensive than seeking statewide office, with some pegging the estimated cost of a successful 2016 campaign at more than $1 billion.

Unlike the other Democratic challengers, who've focused on pocketbook issues, Chafee has staked his campaign on growing international instability. His opposition to Clinton, Chafee said, is driven by the belief that the next president should not be someone who supported the war in Iraq.

Then a Republican, Chafee was the lone GOP senator to vote in 2002 against the invasion.

Clinton, then a New York senator, voted to authorize the war, which became a major issue during her 2008 campaign. Clinton now opposes putting U.S. soldiers on the ground in Iraq, other than as advisers to the Iraqi forces.

Chafee left the Republican Party in 2007 to become an independent and supported President Barack Obama in both his campaigns. After winning election as governor, Chafee became a Democrat in 2013, but opted against seeking re-election.


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