"I have been a block of granite," Lincoln Chafee insisted Tuesday night in his opening remarks at the first Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas. His performance over the next 2 1/2 hours proved he was anything but.
The former Rhode Island governor and senator came into the debate with extremely low expectations - the result of his showing of less than 1 percent in most state and national polls - and managed to underperform even them.
His worst moment - and one of the worst moments I have ever witnessed in a debate - came when CNN moderator Anderson Cooper asked Chafee to defend his 1999 vote for legislation that loosened regulations on big banks and followed up to ask whether he'd really known what he was voting for.
"I'd just arrived at the Senate," Chafee appeared to concede. "My dad had died. I'd been appointed by the governor. It was the first vote, and it was 90-5."
But, Chafee wasn't done! Asked about his vote in support of the USA Patriot Act, he came up with this doozy of an explanation: "That was another 99-to-1 vote." One thing we do know for sure: If everyone jumped off a bridge, Chafee would, too.
No, Chafee wasn't winning the Democratic nomination before this debate, and he isn't winning it afterward. But, long-shot candidates can still help or harm themselves based on how they perform when the bright lights come on. Chafee hurt himself, badly.
Lincoln Chafee, for crumbling under pressure, you had the Worst Week in Washington. Congrats, or something.
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