Former United States Senator and Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee shocked everyone on Thursday, announcing that he was exploring a presidential candidacy. He wasted no time criticizing Hillary Clinton for her vote in favor of the Iraq War.
“I don’t think anybody should be president of the United States that made that mistake,” Chafee told The Washington Post. “It’s a huge mistake and we live with broad, broad ramifications today — of instability not only in the Middle East but far beyond and the loss of American credibility. There were no weapons of mass destruction.”
The United States Senate overwhelmingly voted in favor of the Iraq War in 2002, by a bipartisan vote of 77-23. Chafee, who was at the time a Republican, was the only GOP senator to vote against the war resolution. Of the 50 Democratic senators, 29 voted in favor of the Iraq War. Most notably, John Kerry voted for it, costing him the 2004 presidential election against George W. Bush.
Hillary Clinton explained in her most recent book:
“I thought I had acted in good faith and made the best decision I could with the information I had. And I wasn’t alone in getting it wrong. But I still got it wrong. Plain and simple.”
Clinton did not regret her vote until November 2005, when she told her constituents in a letter that she would not have voted for it “based on what we now know.”
The vote in favor the Iraq War haunted her in the 2008 Democratic primaries, when Obama criticized her for “trying to sound or vote like Republicans, when it comes to national security issues.”
Chafee explained to CNN’s Dana Bash on Monday that her tenure as U.S. Secretary of State “was kind of a muscular, top-down, unilateral, too close to neo-cons, too Bush-like.” This is not the first time she has been called a neoconservative for her hawkish tendencies by many pundits, including former congressman Joe Scarborough and far left magazine The Nation. Another far left organization, MoveOn.org,is pushing Hillary to “think long and hard before embracing the same policies advocated by right-wing war hawks.”
“I was looking at the same evidence. I served for the same time in the Senate, and I made a different decision, and elections should be all about judgement. And this is one of the most critical judgment calls in American history, we’re just finished with the Vietnam era, some would argue, and to get back into another quagmire overseas that jeopardizes everything economically that we have here in the United States, I would argue, as I’ve said, a disqualifier to be President of the United States, and certainly a disqualifier to be the Democratic nominee. That should be a Republican war.”
This article was updated on April 12, 2015.