Where they stand: Chafee on some issues of 2016 campaign

Jun 3, 2015, 7:36 PM

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee announced his candidacy Wednesday for the 2016 Democratic nomination for president. Here’s a look at where Chafee — a Republican who became an independent, then a Democrat — stands on some issues likely to be debated in the campaign:

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ECONOMY

Chafee supports raising the federal minimum wage. As governor, Chafee supported a plan to broaden the state sales tax but lower it from 7 to 6 percent. Most parts of the plan died. He signed into law a program expanding paid family leave and supports similar proposals nationally.

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TRADE

Chafee voted in favor of free trade agreements when he was a Republican senator from 1999 to 2006. He supports giving the White House authority to negotiate trade deals that Congress can only approve or reject, not amend. When asked if he would support the Trans-Pacific Partnership, involving the U.S., Canada and Asian countries, Chafee said he assumed President Barack Obama will negotiate a good deal.

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IMMIGRATION

While in the Senate, Chafee backed a bill to let people living in the country illegally apply for citizenship after working for six years, completing a background check, learning English and meeting other requirements. But the idea stalled. In Rhode Island, Chafee rescinded an executive order requiring state agencies and vendors doing business with the state to use a federal database to check the employment eligibility of new hires. He supported giving in-state tuition at state colleges to students in the country illegally. But Chafee also angered immigration advocates last year by honoring federal requests to continue holding immigrants in a state prison without a warrant, even as Obama announced plans to defer deportation for millions of people in the country illegally.

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FOREIGN POLICY

Chafee was the lone Republican senator to vote against authorizing the war in Iraq, and has said that Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vote as a senator to authorize the war disqualifies her to serve as president. He served for seven years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He says the U.S. should respond to Islamic State fighters through a multinational effort, but declined to say whether he supports air strikes or the use of a U.S. ground force. He supports opening relations with Cuba and says a Palestinian state should be “living side by side with Israel.”

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SOCIAL ISSUES/CIVIL LIBERTIES

Chafee says one of his fundamental beliefs is the “protection of personal liberties.” He has supported legalizing same-sex marriage since his days in the Senate and signed into law a bill legalizing gay marriage in Rhode Island in 2013. Chafee supports abortion rights. He caused a stir as governor when he refused to call the tree that occupies the Statehouse rotunda every December a “Christmas tree” out of respect for the separation of church and state. Chafee took on the federal government over capital punishment, fighting to keep from turning over a suspect who faced the death penalty. The federal government won that confrontation. He praised the effort in Congress to end the government’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records. He says Edward Snowden, who leaked the program, should be allowed to come back to the U.S. without facing charges.

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ENVIRONMENT

Chafee helped block efforts to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and cast the deciding vote to kill former President George W. Bush’s plan to give power plants, factories and refineries more time to reduce air pollution. He did not take a position when asked about the Keystone XL oil pipeline that environmental groups are fighting, saying only that the nation needs energy infrastructure that respects all environmental concerns.

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Where they stand: Chafee on some issues of 2016 campaign