Lincoln Chafee May Run in 2016 -- Because Hillary Voted for 2002 Iraq War!

Susan Jones | April 10, 2015 | 7:16am EDT
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Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, now a Democrat, said he has formed an exploratory committee to consider a run for president in 2016. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

( - Lincoln Chafee -- a former mayor, former U.S. senator, and former governor of Rhode Island, is now mulling a run for president in 2016. The Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Democrat said on Friday he's thinking about running because Hillary Clinton, then a senator, voted to authorize the Iraq war in 2002.

"Well, first of all, it's the state that our nation is in. And I'm very concerned about where we're going internationally. And that affects our economy and obviously our security. And I just think we've made some mistakes, particularly going back to the decision to invade Iraq back in 2002.

"And with Hillary Clinton being the lead candidate and voting for the Iraq war authorization, even though it's a long time ago, it's affecting us today.  And so, the international issues -- and also where we're going domestically --- growing the middle class and my record of service -- at the local level as a mayor, at the state level as a governor -- at federal level as a senator -- I believe I have a lot to offer," Chafee told MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

Chafee said Clinton's vote to authorize the Iraq war was a "huge mistake." 

"And at that time, we were just finishing with Vietnam, the Vietnam veterans were -- were finishing with that whole trauma of Vietnam, and coming into a new century. The Cold War had finished, the Berlin Wall had come down, the Soviet Union had broken up, we had great relations with China -- it was a moment in time we had to make good decisions -- and not jeopardize this peace that we had.

"And this was one of the colossally poor decisions we made in 2002."

Although a lot of people want to put the Iraq War "in the rear-view mirror," Chafee isn't one of them.

He said campaigns should involve discussions about decision-making and judgement -- "and I don't want to put it in the rear-view mirror. That was a moment in time that jeopardized everything we're dealing with today. And we're talking about Iran -- I mean, I ask you, do you think that decision to invade Iraq has made the Middle East better? I don't. And so you can't put it in the rear-view mirror."

Chafee said something similar on Thursday, the day he announced he has formed an exploratory committee: "I don't think the next president of the United States should have voted in favor of that mistake (the Iraq war)," he said in an interview with The Associated Press. "And I don't think the Democratic party nominee, in particular, should have voted for that mistake."

Chafee told MSNBC on Friday that "of course" the U.S. should be talking with Iran. "That's what we did right during the Cold War, talking with China, talking with Russia, ping-pong teams going back and forth in China and dealing with Gorbachev -- that's the right way to make peace."

Asked how he would deal with ISIS, Chafee said, "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.

"We have to improve our relations with Russia, in particular -- that's got to be one of the highest priorities. I know they're helping us with the Iran deal -- but continue to work with Russia, get them back on our side. After the breakup of the Berlin Wall and Gorbachev, and we were going in a good direction with Russia, and that's something we have to work on.

"And so it's alliances and containment -- that's what's worked in the past."

Chafee described the conflict in Ukraine as a tug of war between Russia and the European Union.  He said his inclination is to "bring Russia into the E.U." because "Russia's part of Europe."

On domestic issues, Chafee said he expects he and Hillary Clinton will hold similar views on boosting the middle class and taxing the wealthy.

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