Lincoln Chafee

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Lincoln Chafee was the Mayor of Warwick, Rhode Island from 1993 to 1999 before being elected to the U.S. Senate from Rhode Island as a Republican. He served in the Senate from 1999-2007, and during that time served on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and on the Senate Committee for Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. After leaving office, he left the Republican Party and became an Independent. In 2011, he was elected Governor of Rhode Island, and in 2014 declined to seek a second term. During his time as Governor, Lincoln Chafee joined the Democratic Party. He announced his campaign for the 2016 Democratic nomination in June 2015 at the George Mason Center for Politics & Foreign Relations in Arlington, Virginia. 

On the Issues

AAI tracks statements, non-statements, and the track records of each presidential candidate on the issues we care about most. Click on an issue to read what Lincoln Chafee has said on the campaign trail.


Foreign Policy     

Domestic Policy


U.S. Role in the Middle East 

Voting Rights 


U.S. Response to ISIL

Civil Rights + Civil Liberties








Community Policing




Bigoted Speech


Iran Negotiations 

Immigration Reform

Key Advisors

No advisors recorded. If you'd like to submit information to appear on this website, please email Kristin McCarthy.


The U.S. Role in the Middle East

On how he would be different from President Obama, Chafee said, “Certainly, ending the wars. We've got to stop these wars. You have to have a new dynamic, a new paradigm. We just spent a half-billion dollars arming and training soldiers, the rebel soldiers in Syria. They quickly join the other side… And also we just bombed a hospital. We've had drone strikes that hit civilian weddings. So I would change how we -- our approach to the Middle East. We need a new paradigm in the Middle East.” (October 2015, CNN Democratic Debate)

“And what I'm most proud of is my judgment, particularly in the Iraq war vote. There was a lot of pressure -- political pressure, public pressure. But I did my homework and I did not believe that the evidence was there that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. And we live now with the consequences.” (October 2015, CNN Democratic Debate)

After being asked what is the greatest national security threat to the U.S., Chafee said, “It's certainly the chaos in the Middle East. There's no doubt about it. And it all started with the Iraq invasion.” (October 2015, CNN Democratic Debate)

“We have to repair American credibility after we told the world that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, which he didn't.” (October 2015, CNN Democratic Debate)

“The tragedies of the Iraq War are manifold; lost and injured lives, hundreds of billions of squandered tax dollars, the difficulty of providing just and proper care for our brave veterans, but maybe the most tragic, the loss of American credibility. I commit to the repair needed to all the harm done. Our credibility will be restored when we respect our world partners and truly listen when they speak. In a world of nuclear weapons, the United States must make international decisions with brains and not biceps.” (June 2015, Campaign Website)

"We must deliberately and carefully extricate ourselves from expensive wars,” (June 2015, Announcement Speech)

"It is a chaotic mess over there. It's a Republican chaotic mess, and so we need, as Democrats, a nominee that opposed the war, as we look ahead to fixing it. That's the person who would be better to strengthen those alliances and then move forward, working with Saudis, the Turks, even the Iranians, Egyptians, Israelis, Jordanians, Europeans, Russians. That's how we're going to fix it."(June 2015, Newsmax)

"The turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa is all because of that mistake we made in authorizing President Bush in 2002 to invade Iraq. Even though it was a long time ago, we live with the damage today.” (April 2015, US News)

“I agree with the president that our national credibility--once again-- is on the line. Let us prove to the world anew that we can be peaceful global problem-solvers.” (September 2013, USA Today)

“I never understood the original push for war in Iraq, never understood the logic of regime change...These neocons [neoconservatives all through the ‘90s were talking the importance of regime change in Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein, the strongman. I just didn’t understand stirring up the hornets’ nest that is the Middle East.” (June 2014, Providence Journal)

“I always thought our Cold War strategy depended no strong alliances. Those have been fractured through this misadventure. Obviously, it’s happening in Syria. I just believe in multinational approaches that are respectful of everybody’s positions. We deviated from that respect. We’ve got to try rebuilding those alliances with the Saudis, the Turks, the Jordanians--that’s going to be key.” (June 2014, Providence Journal)

U.S. Response to ISIL

"ISIL gains both from antiquities destruction and selling them via black markets. World must act, America can lead." (September 2015, @LincolnChafee)

“My view is that we have to do what we did in the Cold War, and build strong alliances. And that’s how you deal with threats, containment worked during the cold war. Go back to what worked.” (April 2015, MSNBC)


“Still inflamed with bitter memories of Iraq, I stand with the American people, along with friends abroad, who are dubious about arms as a solution. At first glance, the current administration's case for war was eerily reminiscent to the one we were sold during the lead-up to Iraq. Moreover, the chaos unleashed in Iraq pales in comparison to the global conflagration that could result from military intervention in Syria, specifically, the prospect of emboldening al-Qaeda, which would work against our long-term interests.”(September 2013, USA Today)


“I am unmovable on the point that the security of the state of Israel is paramount. Everything I have said and will say on the subject has as its ultimate aim the long-term security interests of our ally Israel. I also stand before you as one who is faithful to my generation, as one determined to give peace a chance. How can anyone argue that progress on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is not better than the status quo in terms of Israel’s long-term security?”

“I was a strong supporter for the land-for-peace principle, which amounts to Palestinians gaining a homeland in exchange for recognizing the legitimacy of the state of Israel.” (originally from his book, Against the Tide, p 212)


"Lebanese govt shaken by trash crisis. I'm a former mayor-in every town you have to pick up the garbage!#GetGrounded " (August 2015, @LincolnChafee)

Iran Nuclear Deal 

“But Russia is aligned with Iran and with Assad and the Alawite Shias in Syria. So that Iran deal did not allow Russia to come in.” (October 2015, CNN Democratic Debate)

“Sickening to see Iraq War supporters fighting so hard to stop Iran Peace Deal. @POTUS trying to fix their mess.”  (August 2015, @LincolnChafee)

“Of course, we should be talking with [Iran]. That’s what we did right during the Cold War: talking with China, talking with Russia….That’s the right way to make peace.”(April 2015, MSNBC)

“If we can get behind the Iran deal that President Obama has crafted, maybe that would be a way to heal that bad vote back in 2002, for those who voted for [the invasion of Iraq].” (August 2015, USA Today)

Voting Rights

"One of our most cherished rights as Americans is the right to vote. Throughout our nation's history, we have fought to ensure that no citizen be denied that right. Similarly, we have also worked to maintain confidence in our elections by enacting appropriate safeguards to prevent voter intimidation and fraud...Having reflected a great deal on the issue, I believe that requiring identification at the polling place is a reasonable request to ensure the accuracy and integrity of our elections" (July 2011, press release)

Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

“Recently certain of our rights have been wrongfully infringed upon. Particularly the Fourth Amendment forbids the tapping of our phones without a warrant. And the Eighth Amendment outlaws cruel and unusual punishment or torture. I will never allow our liberties to be diminished. And I will always steadfastly support our First Amendment rights. I also strongly support a woman’s right to make her own personal reproductive decisions. I believe in common sense adherence to the Second Amendment.”(June 2015, Campaign Website)


In defending his support for the Patriot Act in 2002, Chafee said, “that was another 99 to one vote for the Patriot Act, and it was seen as at the time modernizing our ability to do what we've always done to tap phones which always required a warrant. And I voted for that.” (October 2015, CNN Democratic Debate)

After being asked if he regrets voting in favor of the Patriot Act, Chafee said, “As long as you're getting a warrant, I believe that under the Fourth Amendment, you should be able to do surveillance, but you need a warrant. That's what the Fourth Amendment says. And in the Patriot Act, section 215 started to get broadened too far. So I would be in favor of addressing and reforming section 215 of the Patriot Act.” (October 2015, CNN Democratic Debate)

“The words of the Fourth Amendment are very clear: You need a warrant. That’s strict language, and ‘no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause. It’s not complicated.”(April 2015, US News)

“I don't believe it granted any power to tap phones or any other surveillance without a warrant. That’s a definite stretch,” (April 2015, US News)

“Our sacred constitution requires a warrant before unreasonable searches, which includes our phone records. Let’s enforce that and while we’re at it, allow Edward Snowden to come home.” (June 2015, The Intercept)

Community Policing

No statements recorded. If you'd like to submit a statement to appear on this website, please email Kristin McCarthy.

Bigoted Speech: Instances of Condemnation and/or Use

*The Arab American Institute is leading a campaign to hold public officials accountable for their bigoted rhetoric this election cycle. Join us by signing our Pledge to Combat Bigotry, and use #NoBigotry on social media to hold candidates accountable and thank candidates who stand against it.*

".@RealBenCarson shames himself and the Constitution with Muslim president comment. Bigotry is incompatible with the values of this nation." (September 2015, @LincolnChafee)

"I fear fear itself. The last time the @GOP was this scared of Muslims we invaded Iraq. Hawks must stop squawking" (September 2015, @LincolnChafee)

Immigration Reform

"We can and should do better for new Americans” (June 2015, Announcement Speech)

“I co-sponsored the McCain bill. He came up with a bill, path to legality but also strong border security. There was a good compromise. Bush supports it and others and that’s the best way to handle these 11 million illegal immigrants that are here working illegally in this country. First, border security. Second, a path to legality. Pay back fines. Learn English. Get in the back of the line of the immigration line. And it’s a big problem. It’s going to take bipartisan work.” (June 2015, Immigration Impact)