Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee is bowing out of the Democratic race for the White House.
Chafee said in a statement that he had decided to end his campaign "after much thought."
The former senator was barely registering in polls, and had an embarrassing moment in the first Democratic debate earlier this month when he sought to explain away a vote against deregulating banks by arguing he had only just arrived in the Senate, and that his father had just died.
“As you know I have been campaigning on a platform of Prosperity Through Peace,” Chafee said in a statement.
“But after much thought I have decided to end my campaign for president today. I would like to take this opportunity one last time to advocate for a chance be given to peace," Chafee added.
His decision leaves three major candidates in the Democratic race: Front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonAttorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty Attorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation Durham seeking indictment of lawyer with ties to Democrats: reports MORE, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats urge Biden to commute sentences of 4K people on home confinement Briahna Joy Gray: Push toward major social spending amid pandemic was 'short-lived' Sanders 'disappointed' in House panel's vote on drug prices MORE (I-Vt.) and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who is far behind in third place. Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb dropped out of the race earlier this week.
Harvard Law School Professor Lawrence Lessig is also running, but polled too poorly to make the stage of the first debate under host CNN's rules.
Chafee was lampooned by "Saturday Night Live" for his performance in the first debate. During the debate he was the only candidate to explicitly attack front-runner Hillary Clinton over her email scandal, and the tactic backfired, with a pro-Clinton audience hostile to his attempts to question her ethics.
In the days following the debate CNN interviewer Wolf Blitzer bluntly recommended to Chafee in a TV interview that he quit the race to protect his dignity. “Here's what worries me, governor. Because of your distinguished career, you're going to wind up looking silly if you keep going on like this," Blitzer said.
Here's Chafee's full statement:
Once again it is a pleasure to join so many Democrats including my fellow candidates who are so dedicated to keeping the presidency and winning back the House and the Senate. We all know that the Republican agenda sets back women’s rights and I pledge all my energy towards a big 2016 victory for Democrats across the country.
We have a winning message of building a strong middle class, investing in education and infrastructure, extending health coverage to more and more Americans, granting a path to citizenship to those who have lived in the shadows for too long, accepting the science of climate change and having the leadership to cut back on our fossil fuel consumption with sound policy, We defend our civil liberties and women’s reproductive freedoms, respect the rights of our L-G-B-T friends, understand that black lives matter and that we need to do more for Native Americans. And you can be sure that Democrats will make good appointments to the Supreme Court, something this country needs and deserves.
As you know I have been campaigning on a platform of Prosperity Through Peace. But after much thought I have decided to end my campaign for president today. I would like to take this opportunity one last time to advocate for a chance be given to peace.
Since today is all about women’s leadership it reminds me of one of my favorite Greek plays; Lysistrata, a comedy from about 400 BCE by Aristophanes. In that play, a group of women, fed up with the war mongering of their husbands, agree to withhold their favors until peace returns. And it worked!
Anyway, let’s talk about the present.
Studies show that women tend to lead differently than men, in that women are more likely to be collaborative and team oriented. It is undeniable the benefits women provide to the pursuit of peace.
When I was a senator, a general from the Pentagon testified before the Foreign Relations Committee on global military powers. I asked him who was second to the U.S. in military might? He thought for a bit and said, “probably the U.K.” Yes that was a few years ago but the point remains true: no real rival to the United States exists when it comes to total weaponry and deployment potential.
We make Virginia class submarines in Rhode Island and I’ve been on an overnight patrol. What a phenomenal piece of technology and craftsmanship — a machine bristling with the most advanced power imaginable. Submarines are just one instrument in our staggeringly efficient arsenal of war. And yet we are sinking ever deeper and deeper into an endless morass in the Middle East and North Africa. People keep dying, and peace seems further and further away. It’s evident that all this military power isn’t working for us right now.
Let me share a story from DaNang, Viet Nam. DaNang — that city has so many memories for my generation. But just this summer, former Viet Cong and ex-American G.I.’s were laughing, eating, drinking and celebrating the Fourth of July together. The article quoted Pete Peterson, a former Air Force pilot who spent six and a half years in a Hanoi prison camp after he was shot down. Later he served as Ambassador to Viet Nam in the 1990’s.
He said now Viet Nam and the United States have so much in common. After all the death and devastation during that horrible war, why did we do it, he was asked. He said, “I have thought about this for a long time. I’m convinced that the war could have been averted had we made the effort to understand the politics of the place. … Had we made the effort to understand the politics of the place.”
Ladies and gentleman, from what I’ve heard none of the Republicans running for president want to understand anything about the Middle East and North Africa. Instead they prefer to espouse more bellicosity, more saber rattling and more blind macho posturing.
When I hear all their tough talk I have déjà vu about the “evil” Viet Cong. We should be different. Democrats should insist on learning from the lessons of Viet Nam. “It all could have been averted.”
Now, I’m not saying that all countries are right in any particular thing they do. We must hold them accountable, but we can’t do that if we don’t hold ourselves accountable and change our entire paradigm.
The United States of America is so strong militarily, economically and culturally that we can take chances for peace. In fact, as a strong mature world leader, we must take chances for peace. If we have courage, if we take risks, we can have Prosperity through Peace, not just in the United States, but all over the world.
Do we want to be remembered as a bomber of weddings and hospitals? Or do we want to be remembered as Peacemakers, as pioneers of a more harmonious world?
If American war veterans and Vietcong fighters can laugh together on the Fourth of July, then I know so too can Iranians and Israelis, Shias and Sunnis, Turks and Kurds.
A wise man, President Eisenhower counseled us that “only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry” could ensure the meshing of both security and liberty. It is up to you as women, as citizens, and as humans to demand from your leaders an end to the endless wars and the beginning of a new era for the United States and humanity.
Thank You! Go Democrats in 2016!