Democratic presidential candidate Lincoln Chafee, always a long shot, dropped out of the race for his party’s nomination on Friday morning.
“As you know I have been campaigning on a platform of Prosperity Through Peace,” the Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Democrat former governor and senator of Rhode Island told a Democratic National Committee gathering in the bowels of a downtown Washington hotel.
“But after much thought I have decided to end my campaign for president today,” he added, as the crowd lightly groaned. “Thank you. I would like to take this opportunity one last time to advocate for a chance be given to peace.”
Chafee, who never gained any traction by any metric, leaves the race just two days after Vice President Joe Biden opted against a run, and three days after former Virginia senator Jim Webb ended his own bid. It also came just hours after Hillary Clinton, the party’s front-runner, survived a marathon Capitol Hill testimony session on Benghazi.
“We all know that the Republican agenda sets back women’s rights and I pledge all my energy towards a big 2016 victory for Democrats across the country,” he told the DNC’s women’s leadership forum – at which his name was mispronounced as he got on stage as a candidate for the last time.
Immediately after announcing the end of his campaign, Chafee pivoted to the importance of women – by referencing a 2,500-year-old anecdote about politicians’ wives punishing their belligerent spouses by denying them sex.
“Since today is all about women’s leadership it reminds me of one of my favorite Greek plays: Lysistrata, a comedy from about 400 BCE by Aristophanes,” he said, to chuckles. “In that play, a group of women, fed up with the war mongering of their husbands, agree to – how do I put this delicately? – withhold their favors until peace returns. And it worked.”
Chafee then called on voters to reject Republicans’ foreign policies, saying they “prefer to espouse more bellicosity, more saber rattling and more blind macho posturing.”
“Do we want to be remembered as a bomber of weddings and hospitals?,” he asked. “Or do we want to be remembered as peacemakers, as pioneers of a more harmonious world?”
With that, the Democratic field was whittled down to three – with no one else waiting in the wings: Clinton, the insurgent Bernie Sanders, and distant third Martin O’Malley. The three are set to address Iowa Democrats at the state party’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner on Saturday night.
Chafee’s announcement did not come as a surprise after he tweeted late on Thursday – amid Clinton’s testimony – “I look forward to speaking at DNC Women’s Forum tomorrow morning. I’ll address my future in the campaign there. #chafee2016″
But it was the most attention his campaign had ever earned outside of his appearance in Las Vegas for the Democrats’ first debate last week. Chafee largely self-funded his bid, raising just $15,000 in the last three months. He rarely broke 1 percent in polling, and never scored any endorsements from elected officials in Washington. (His successor as governor, Gina Raimondo, is backing Clinton.) He was widely mocked for his call to convert the United States to the metric system, though his veiled criticism of Clinton occasionally earned him a headline.
But on Friday, he left the stage to a sympathetic standing ovation.
Asked by reporters afterward why he had dropped out, he said, “Obviously it’s a good week for Secretary Clinton.”
He wished people had paid more attention to his other priorities, he said. But yes, he affirmed, he stands by his support of the metric system.