Chafee: McCain helped torpedo 2006 reelection bid

Rhode Island gubernatorial candidate Lincoln Chafee (I) said Tuesday that Arizona Sen. John McCain, the GOP's 2008 presidential nominee, helped wreck his chances of holding onto his Senate seat in 2006. 

President Obama's decision to stay out of the Rhode Island governor's race out of respect for Chafee thrust the ex-Republican into the news this week. The president's move provoked Democratic nominee Frank Caprio, who told him to "shove it." Now Chafee is taking shots at Obama's 2008 opponent. 

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Chafee was a one-term centrist GOP sentor who opposed the war in Iraq in contrst with McCain (Ariz.), who was one of its chief supporters. But the former senator said that when McCain campaigned for him in 2006, he spoke about "more troops needed in Iraq." And at an event with a group of environmentalists, McCain called for more nuclear energy. 

"You talk about cold, calculating political opportunism — that's the way I felt at the time,'' he said on WPRO Radio, according to the Providence Journal. "At the time, it certainly wasn't helpful ... Those words were used against me.''

Chafee seems to be openly embracing Obama in the final days of his gubernatorial campaign, the ex-senator's closing television ad released Tuesday heavily features old footage of speaking about Chafee's opposition to the Iraq War.

Obama and Chafee's bond extends back two years. Chafee was defeated by Sheldon Whitehouse in 2006 and he eventually abandoned the Republican Party and he endorsed then-Sen. Obama for president in 2008.

The White House explained Monday that that Obama stayed out of the race "out of respect for his friend Lincoln Chafee."

Caprio holds a single-digit lead over Chafee in most polls. The Republican nominee John Robitaille trails far behind both other candidates.

Chafee spoke in detail about how McCain upset him in 2006.

"This was when my whole campaign was based in opposition to the war in Iraq and my opponent, Sheldon Whitehouse, used those comments against me in a debate: 'Linc Chafee, you stood shoulder to shoulder with John McCain [while] he called for more troops in Iraq,'" he said.

"I could see [me] losing those environmental votes in front of my eyes, and I said to myself ... John McCain's coming here for John McCain 2008 presidential campaign."