Lincoln Chafee Just Lost

On Tuesday night, the former Rhode Island governor went from long shot to loser.

Presidential candidate Lincoln Chafee speaks during the Democratic presidential debate on Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Image

It’s mysterious why Lincoln Chafee is on the stage at the Democratic debate, and it’s unclear that he’ll make it to the next one. While people may disagree over who “won” Tuesday night’s debate, we should have enough information to determine that Chafee, the former Rhode Island senator and governor, lost.

Why did Chafee vote for the 1999 repeal of Glass-Steagall, the 1933 law that established a firewall between commercial and investment banking? Chafee explained several months ago that he voted for it because it was right after he was appointed to the Senate, and he didn’t have any idea what he was doing. Inexplicably, he did not come up with a better answer before Tuesday night. At a debate. That was nationally televised. Yeesh!


Anderson Cooper: Sen. Chafee, you voted for the very bill in 1999 that made [the big banks] bigger.


Chafee: I had just arrived in the Senate—

Cooper: Are you saying you didn’t know what you were voting for?

Chafee: It was my very first vote, and it was 92–5—

Cooper: With all due respect, what does that say about you that you’re casting a vote that you didn’t know what you were voting for?

Chafee: I think you’re being rough. I had just arrived, my dad had just died, I just arrived … and it was 92–5. Let me talk about income inequality.

At least “oops” was brief.

Read more of Slate’s coverage of the Democratic primary debate.