Independent Chafee says DNC welcomed his message

Rhode Island’s independent Gov. Lincoln Chafee said Wednesday he was welcomed by Democrats at the party’s national convention in Charlotte, and he said they were receptive to his message that Barack Obama is the best choice for moderates and conservatives in the presidential race.

The former Republican U.S. senator addressed the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday night. Chafee listed Obama’s support for environmental protection, abortion rights, gay marriage and programs such as Head Start and Pell grants, as well as Republicans’ lack of fiscal responsibility, as reasons for former Republicans and independents like him to support Obama.

Chafee told The Associated Press on Wednesday that while some other speakers whipped up the crowd, he didn’t do that. He said the Obama campaign asked that his speech aim at the millions of people watching at home, rather than at the party’s base.

“I think it didn’t rally huge cheers or anything, but people were listening, and it was good,” Chafee said of his speech.

Chafee said he got the biggest cheers from the Rhode Island delegation supporting their hometown guy.

“I knew where they were going to be in the auditorium, and I heard the cheers when I came out,” he said. “We’re going to have our differences, but here we’re all united to elect the president.”

After his speech, Chafee said he headed down to the floor to spend time with the Rhode Island delegation and walked around the auditorium several times, greeting people including old Senate colleagues such as former U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut and veteran Democratic consultant James Carville, who Chafee said told him he was right on target in talking about fiscal responsibility.

Some high-profile Democrats are considering a run for governor against Chafee in 2014. Nevertheless, Chafee said he got a warm welcome at state delegation’s breakfast Wednesday before heading back to Rhode Island.

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