PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – It’s official: Lincoln Chafee will get his moment in the sun next month when he joins Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and other candidates on stage at the first Democratic presidential debate.
CNN confirmed Monday that it has extended an invitation to Chafee to participate in the debate, which is set for Oct. 13 at the Wynn Las Vegas casino in Nevada. Also invited are Clinton, Sanders, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Virginia U.S. Sen. Jim Webb.
Debbie Rich, a spokeswoman for Chafee, told WPRI.com that Chafee had accepted CNN’s invitation and will be there for the TV face-off.
The announcement comes as somewhat of a surprise since more than one national poll of late has shown Chafee failing to attract a single supporter in the Democratic primary for president. Chafee currently has literally 0.0% support in the RealClearPolitics average of national polling data.
But in its debate announcement Monday, CNN said Chafee and the other four candidates have each “achieved an average of 1% in three polls, recognized by CNN, released between Aug. 1 and Oct. 10” – so Chafee only needed three polls to show him at 1% to make it into the debate.
Chafee, a former Republican U.S. senator and one-term governor who left office last fall amid dismal approval ratings, announced a bid for president earlier this year. Rhode Islanders have appeared alternatively perplexed and amused by his quixotic campaign, which he is largely funding with his own money.
The Oct. 13 debate, sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee, is being co-sponsored by CNN and Facebook. Anderson Cooper will moderate, with Dana Bash and CNN en Español’s Juan Carlos Lopez also asking questions. In addition, Don Lemon will read questions submitted for the candidates via Facebook.
Vice President Joe Biden, who has been weighing whether to jump into the Democratic primary in recent weeks, can declare his candidacy as late as the day of the debate and still participate in it, according to CNN’s rules.Ted Nesi (email@example.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He hosts Executive Suite and writes the Nesi’s Notes blog. Follow him on Twitter: @tednesi