WASHINGTON -- Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, whose candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination hasn’t yet found a pulse in public opinion polls, hasn't lost hope.
In a briefing with reporters hosted by The Christian Science Monitor, he compared himself favorably to two former presidents, suggesting that, in the long run, his campaign will take flight. The first was Jimmy Carter, whom, Chafee noted, was also considered a dark horse candidate during his presidential run in 1976.
The other, perhaps less obvious, analogy Chafee drew was with Teddy Roosevelt.
“Well, Theodore Roosevelt certainly, I think I compare favorably to him saying speak softly and carry a big stick,” he said, when asked which president he admired most besides the ever-popular Abraham Lincoln. “Sometimes people say, 'Lincoln [Chafee]’s so quiet,' but you see the courage that I exhibit when the pressure is on. And I think you can say that about me.”
Chafee is certainly a soft speaker. After the breakfast was done, he joked about his penchant for pregnant pauses which, over the preceding hour, had led to numerous journalists interrupting his answers with follow-up questions under the assumption he was done speaking.
As for carrying a big stick, his foreign policy seems more pacifist than that. He praised President Barack Obama's deal on Iran's nuclear weapons program and his re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba. But he also called the president's drone program the biggest mistake of the administration.
In addition to Roosevelt, there were other, more modern, presidents Chafee said he holds in esteem.
“I do admire courage in politics and the guts and backbone,” he said. “And [George] H.W. Bush going back on 'read my lips' to address the real issue of deficits and then Bill Clinton putting in his deficit reduction plan, that took guts. He knew the political sacrifice that was going to come. Both of them knew that. So I’ll be bipartisan on that."