Lincoln Chafee, charging the George W. Bush administration couldn’t be trusted as he recalled the chaos of the Iraq war, Wednesday joined the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.
The former Rhode Island senator and governor, speaking to about 60 students and others at George Mason University, recalled his 2002 vote against giving Bush broad authority to wage war in Iraq; Chafee was then a Republican and the sole no vote in his caucus.
Wednesday, he mentioned three reasons for his opposition: He didn’t want the country to repeat the mistakes of the Vietnam War, he did not trust the Bush administration and he found its war supporters misleading and worse.
“I learned in the first nine months of the Bush-Cheney administration prior to September 11th not to trust them at their word,” Chafee said.
Neoconservatives promoting the war “didn’t have the guts to argue their points straight up to the American people,” he charged. “They knew there were no weapons of mass destruction. They wanted their war badly enough to purposely deceive us.”
Instead, Chafee said, “reinvigorate the United Nations and see what can come out of those discussions” as a way of promoting peace.
Nowadays, he said, many of the same advisers to helped create the chaos in Iraq are advising presidential candidates from both parties. He didn’t mention Democratic rival Hillary Clinton by name in his 13-minute speech. Clinton, a U.S. senator from New York in 2002, voted yes on the war. She said last year that vote was a mistake.
Chafee also offered a broad domestic agenda, including adoption of the metric system. “Believe me, it’s easy,” he said. “It doesn’t take long before 34 degrees is hot.”
Chafee, 62, is the fourth prominent Democrat to announce his candidacy for president, joining Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.