Welcome to the Party, Lincoln Chafee

NYT FDAlan Rappeport 6/3/2015

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Good Wednesday morning from Washington, where the Senate finally reached an agreement on the National Security Agency surveillance bill. Hillary Rodham Clinton has a new advocacy group, and a previously reluctant segment is warming up to Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. And the presidential race is set to add another name to its roster.

Mrs. Clinton will face a third rival for the Democratic nomination on Wednesday when Lincoln Chafee, a former senator and governor of Rhode Island, reveals his plans to join the race.

A Republican who became an independent and then a Democrat, Mr. Chafee is expected to announce his intentions during a foreign policy speech in the afternoon at George Mason University in Virginia.

Mr. Chafee will join Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Martin O’Malley, the former Maryland governor, in challenging Mrs. Clinton for the nomination.

Mr. Chafee, the only Republican in the Senate who opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq, has signaled that he will press Mrs. Clinton on her support of the war. Since hinting that he might run in April, Mr. Chafee has also questioned Mrs. Clinton’s performance as secretary of state and raised concerns about foreign donations to her family’s foundation.

Political analysts in Rhode Island were surprised to learn of Mr. Chafee’s presidential aspirations. He enters the race as a long shot, lacking Mrs. Clinton’s fund-raising prowess or name recognition and Mr. Sanders’s grass-roots support.

Some have suggested that Mr. Chafee is looking to rebrand himself after opting not to seek re-election as governor amid weak poll numbers and the threat of a primary challenge. However, even critics say that he is sincere and that his presence will press Mrs. Clinton on foreign policy.

“Governor Chafee is a good and gracious man and certainly has every right to run for this office,” said Joseph McNamara, chairman of the Rhode Island Democratic Party, who noted that Mrs. Clinton has strong support in the state. “And although it is a little late for him to get into this race, we only wish him well.”