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Former Rhode Island Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee voiced his support for Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in a speech delivered in the ICC Auditorium Tuesday night.

“I’m going to support Senator Obama,” he said. “He has the right message.”

During his term as senator from 1997 to 2007, Chafee was considered to be one of the most moderate Republicans in the senate, and was the only GOP senator to vote against the war in Iraq. In 2006, he lost a reelection bid to Democratic nominee Sheldon Whitehouse, and in the following year, he switched to independent status. Last February, Chafee first declared his support for Obama during the presidential primaries.

During the course of his address, which headlined the first general membership meeting of the Georgetown University College Democrats, Chafee described the 2008 Election as a formative time in American political history.

“[This is the] most important election I’ve ever faced,” he said.

By supporting Obama, Chafee said, the country would send to the world “a clear message that the last eight years ain’t the real America,” earning a standing ovation from the audience in the process.

Chafee also spent part of his address reflecting on his time in the Senate. He spoke of his first year in office, recalling the partisan nature of politics at that time after the closely contested presidential election.

Chafee also criticized the administration of President George W. Bush for its divisiveness, noting that he believed there were several decisions during Bush’s presidency in particular that demonstrated this divisive reality, such as the U.S.’s withdrawal from an International Court of Justice protocol that gave tribunal jurisdiction to the international court for certain cases and the administration’s refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

“It was a wild time,” Chafee said, describing the “tumultuous” period he spent in the Senate during first few years of the Bush presidency.

Chafee also discussed his decision not to support a war in Iraq, and said he was shocked that so many of his colleagues voted for the military operations.

“[I have] always been curious that so many of [my] fellow senators with ambition voted `aye,'” he said.

During Bush’s second term, Chafee accused the administration of fostering even more divisiveness with the proposed privatization of the Social Security in 2005 and the president’s appointments to the Supreme Court.

For the question and answer period, when asked about his intentions to still run for office or serve in the Obama administration, he only said that whatever he decides, he would be running under the independent status.

“I still have the bug, still have the edge,” he said.

Correction: The original article incorrectly stateed that Chafee served from 2000-2006.

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