Lincoln Chafee, Jim Webb Out After First Democratic Debate



Theo Menon

Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb dropped out this week following the two sided CNN Democratic debate on October 13. The debate featured former U. S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont U. S. Senator Bernie Sanders, former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, and former Virginia U.S. Senator Jim Webb. It was widely seen as a competition between Clinton and Sanders. Interjections from O’Malley, Webb, and Chafee were few, far between, and underwhelming.

Unlike the Republican debates, which led to the rise in popularity of Carly Fiorina, the Democratic debate only furthered the popularity of clear thefront-runner, Hillary Clinton. Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee, both of whom were polling under 1 percent, decided to call it quits on October 20 and October 23, respectively.

The debate saw Bernie Sanders continually pulling Hillary Clinton to the left. Meanwhile, Webb couldn’t find a foothold in the left-wing debate. As a conservative, pro-gun, anti-affirmative action Democrat from the purple state of Virginia, Webb found little support with the progressive-leaning audience. As Clinton and Sanders preached about increased gun regulation and support for “black lives matter,” Webb took a moderate approach, resulting in little positive response from the audience. Webb’s at-times-brash-and-impatient tone also made him less than popular with the crowd.

Lincoln Chafee failed to make a positive or memorable impression. The former Rhode Island Governor painted himself as a political “block of granite”, despite his two party switches. He also tried to explain away pro-big business votes as peer pressure and youthful mistakes.

Lincoln Chafee was a former eight-year Republican U. S. Senator (1999-2007) and a former one-term independent Governor (2011-2015). Jim Webb was a one-term U. S. Senator from Virginia (2007-2013) and President Reagan’s U. S. Secretary of the Navy (1987-1988). Webb has not ruled out continuing his campaign for the presidency as an independent.