Former GOP senator campaigns for Obama

09/02/08 Seán Kinane
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Former Rhode Island Republican Sen. Lincoln Chaffee was in Sarasota this afternoon to campaign for Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.

Chafee, who is now an independent, is on a two-day tour of Florida to meet with Republicans and independents who support Obama. He told a room full of volunteer phone bankers and people who showed up to get tickets to vice presidential candidate Joe Biden’s Wednesday appearance that he is supporting Democratic candidate Barack Obama.

Chafee was the only Republican in the Senate who voted against giving President George W. Bush authorization to invade Iraq in October 2002. On Tuesday in Sarasota, he called it “the easiest vote I ever took.” In 2006 he was the only Senate Republican to vote for a timetable for the removal of U.S. occupation troops from Iraq. Chafee said that he started having reservations about the direction of his party during George W. Bush’s first year.

Chafee supported Barack Obama in the Democratic primary, calling him the “first Democrat I ever voted for.” Chafee said that Sen. John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate points to a major difference between the two campaigns. He said Obama is trying to unite the country while McCain is trying to gain favor with far right wing of his party.

Chafee served with Obama on the Foreign Relations Committee and the Environment and Public Works Committee.

In other election news, on Monday outside the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, more than 200 demonstrators were arrested, including Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and at least three other journalists.

According to Democracy Now!, “law enforcement officers used pepper spray, rubber bullets, concussion grenades and excessive force against protesters and journalists.” Last week more than 100 people were arrested at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, including a producer for ABC News.

Chafee will continue to campaign for Barack Obama in Central Florida on Wednesday with appearances in Orlando and The Villages.

Photo by: Seán Kinane/WMNF

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