Chafee dropping out of Democratic presidential race

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Lincoln Chafee Drops Out of Democratic Presidential Race

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee announced Friday he would end his quixotic Democratic presidential campaign after failing to gain traction against Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

"After much thought I have decided to end my campaign for president today," Chafee said at a women's forum held by the Democratic National Committee. "But I would like to take this opportunity one last time to advocate for a chance be given to peace."

Chafee delivered a widely panned debate performance earlier this month and has struggled to raise money and generate enthusiasm in a field that has been dominated by Clinton, a former secretary of state, and Sanders, the Vermont independent senator.

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Chafee's departure comes days after Vice President Joe Biden declined to join the field and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb announced he was leaving the Democratic campaign and would consider an independent bid.

It leaves Clinton, Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley as the three main contenders for the nomination. All three are appearing Saturday at a major Iowa Democratic fundraising dinner in Des Moines, an event that helped fuel President Barack Obama's rise in the fall of 2007.

See Lincoln Chafee on the campaign trail:

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Lincoln Chafee on the campaign trail
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Chafee dropping out of Democratic presidential race
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 30: Lincoln Chafee visits FOX Business Network at FOX Studios on September 30, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate, former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee leaves after speaking at the New Hampshire Democratic convention Saturday Sept. 19, 2015 in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 28: Democratic Presidential candidate and former governor of Rhode Island Lincoln Chafee speaks at the Democratic National Committee summer meeting on August 28, 2015 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Most of the Democratic Presidential candidates including Chafee, Bernie Sanders , Martin O'Malley and Hillary Clinton are attending at the event. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
Lincoln Chafee, former governor of Rhode Island and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, speaks during the annual Democratic Wing Ding in Clear Lake, Iowa, U.S., on Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. The event, first held in 2004, raises funds for county Democratic Central Committees. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Democratic presidential candidate, former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, listens as he is introduced to speak at the Iowa Federation of Labor AFL-CIO Presidential Forum, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Altoona, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Democratic presidential candidate former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee speaks during the Iowa Democratic Party's Hall of Fame Dinner, Friday, July 17, 2015, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Democratic presidential candidate former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, left, participates in the Fourth of July Parade festivities in Amherst, N.H. ,Saturday, July 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)
FILE - In this June 24, 2015 file photo, Democratic presidential candidate former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee grabs a plate of food before speaking to voters at the Belknap County Democrats meeting during a campaign stop in Laconia, N.H. The former Rhode Island governor has visited the first primary state of New Hampshire a dozen times this year. But he seems to be making barely a ripple, aside from curiosity about some of his policy platforms. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)
In this June 24, 2015 photo, a Lincoln Chafee campaign sticker is displayed during a campaign stop among the Belknap County Democrats in Laconia, N.H. The former Rhode Island governor has visited the first primary state of New Hampshire a dozen times this year. But he seems to be making barely a ripple, aside from curiosity about some of his policy platforms. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Lincoln Chafee, former governor of Rhode Island, answers a question after announcing he will seek the Democratic presidential nomination at the George Mason University School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., on Wednesday, June 3, 2015. Chafee, a former Republican-turned-independent who became a Democrat while he was governor of Rhode Island, formally launched his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination at the university. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Lincoln Chafee, former governor of Rhode Island, answers a question after announcing he will seek the Democratic presidential nomination at the George Mason University School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., on Wednesday, June 3, 2015. Chafee, a former Republican-turned-independent who became a Democrat while he was governor of Rhode Island, formally launched his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination at the university. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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The former Rhode Island senator surprised many when he formed a presidential exploratory committee last spring and raised eyebrows when he called for the U.S. to switch to the metric system during a formal campaign kickoff in Virginia last June.

His poll numbers were so low that comedian Conan O'Brien came up with a song for Chafee's longshot bid and encouraged viewers to boost his poll numbers from 0 percent to 1 percent because "it seems like the nice thing to do."

Often driving from his Rhode Island home, Chafee visited the first primary state of New Hampshire several times but failed to draw large crowds.

In the first Democratic debate, Chafee referred to himself as a "block of granite" when it came to issues and said he was most proud of his judgment, particularly his vote against the Iraq war. He frequently said U.S. foreign policy should promote peace but his performance was widely panned, prompting questions about whether he would continue his campaign.

Chafee raised just $11,000 in the most recent fundraising quarter. Most of his money has come from more than $360,000 that he has loaned his campaign. During his past campaigns, he relied on an old New England family fortune amassed over generations.

Chafee told reporters he decided to end his campaign last weekend after Clinton's strong performance in the debate. Biden's announcement and Clinton's testimony before the House Select Committee on Benghazi reaffirmed his thinking, Chafee said, adding he no longer saw her use of a private email system as a disqualifying issue.

"Obviously it's a good week for Secretary Clinton," he said. "I'm moving on now. It's time to move on and support the party any way I can."

The presidential bid represented an unusual twist for the unconventional 62-year-old lawmaker and the son of late Sen. John Chafee.

In the Senate, the younger Chafee stood out as a liberal Republican in an increasingly conservative party. He was the lone Republican in 2002 to vote against going to war in Iraq, a moment that he tried to make a cornerstone of his campaign.

He was elected governor in 2010 as an independent and twice backed Obama's White House campaigns. He joined the Democrats in 2013 and used his presidential campaign to urge the U.S. to help reinvigorate the United Nations as a way to promote peace and stability.

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida congresswoman, called Chafee a "class act" and recalled his decision to join the Democratic party.

"Let's remember that that was a big deal," Wasserman Schultz told the audience. "Because when he joined our party, he made clear that his former party had left him."


RELATED: Click through to see notable moments from the first Democratic debate

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Democratic Debate Oct 13
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Chafee dropping out of Democratic presidential race
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 13: (L-R) Democratic presidential candidates U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Hillary Clinton and Martin O'Malley take part in a presidential debate sponsored by CNN and Facebook at Wynn Las Vegas on October 13, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Five Democratic presidential candidates are participating in the party's first presidential debate. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Hillary Rodham Clinton points to a supporter after the CNN Democratic presidential debate Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during the CNN Democratic presidential debate Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, speaks during the CNN Democratic presidential debate Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Martin O'Malley, former governor of Maryland, participates in the first Democratic presidential debate at the Wynn Las Vegas resort and casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015. While tonight's first Democratic presidential debate will probably lack the name-calling and sharp jabs of the Republican face-offs, there's still potential for strong disagreements between the party's leading contenders. Photographer: Josh Haner/Pool via Bloomberg
Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley speak during the CNN Democratic presidential debate Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 13: Democratic presidential candidates (L-R) Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley and Lincoln Chafee take the stage for a presidential debate sponsored by CNN and Facebook at Wynn Las Vegas on October 13, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The candidates participated in the party's first presidential debate with Jim Webb and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
** CORRECTS FROM JIM WEBB TO LINCOLN CHAFEE ** Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee speaks during the CNN Democratic presidential debate Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, speaks during the CNN Democratic presidential debate Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Democratic presidential candidate former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb listens during the CNN Democratic presidential debate Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Democratic presidential candidate former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley speaks during the CNN Democratic presidential debate Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Democratic presidential candidate former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb speaks during the CNN Democratic presidential debate Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Democratic presidential candidates former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, left, listens as former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee speaks during the CNN Democratic presidential debate Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, listens as Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, speaks during the CNN Democratic presidential debate Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during the CNN Democratic presidential debate Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, left, and Hillary Rodham Clinton talk before the CNN Democratic presidential debate Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton waves as she takes the stage before the CNN Democratic presidential debate Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 13: (L-R) Democratic presidential candidates Jim Webb, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley and Lincoln Chafee take the stage for a Democratic presidential debate sponsored by CNN and Facebook at Wynn Las Vegas on October 13, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The five candidates are participating in the party's first presidential debate. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidates from left, former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, Hillary Rodham Clinton, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee take the stage before the CNN Democratic presidential debate Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Democratic presidential candidates from left, former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, Hillary Rodham Clinton, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee take the stage before the CNN Democratic presidential debate Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton takes the stage before the CNN Democratic presidential debate Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Democratic presidential candidates from left, former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, Hillary Rodham Clinton, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee take the stage before the CNN Democratic presidential debate Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. On the far left is moderator Anderson Cooper. (AP Photo/John Locher)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 13: Guests including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) (4th R) attend a presidential debate sponsored by CNN and Facebook at Wynn Las Vegas on October 13, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Five Democratic presidential candidates are participating in the party's first presidential debate. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 13: Democratic presidential candidate Lincoln Chafee takes part in a presidential debate sponsored by CNN and Facebook at Wynn Las Vegas on October 13, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Five Democratic presidential candidates are participating in the party's first presidential debate. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton appear on screens in the press room as journalists cover the Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 13, 2015. Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton will finally square off with top rival Bernie Sanders in the party's first debate of the 2016 campaign as she seeks to prove she is the candidate to beat. AFP PHOTO/ FREDERIC J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
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