Three-Way Race in Rhode Island Heats Up

Three-Way Race in Rhode Island Heats Up

By Erin McPike - October 25, 2010

As Rhode Island's three-way governor's race tightens, Democratic candidate Frank Caprio is lashing out at President Obama, who is headed to the state tonight to raise money for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Democratic Providence Mayor David Cicilline in his race to replace retiring Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy. However, according to the White House, Obama will not endorse anyone in the governor's race "out of respect" for Republican-turned-independent former Sen. Lincoln Chafee.

Caprio is getting national attention for his colorful reaction to the news. "I never asked President Obama for his endorsement," Caprio said in a recent radio interview on WPRO talk radio. "He can take his endorsement and really shove it, as far as I'm concerned."

Caprio complained that President Obama didn't do a flyover for Rhode Island earlier this year when the state faced flooding and mentioned that even President Bush flew over New Orleans following the devastation from Hurricane Katrina. He lamented that Obama is treating Rhode Islanders like an "ATM machine" now that he's swooping into the state tonight for a fundraiser.

Caprio's outburst comes on the heels of a new poll showing both Robitaille and Chafee beating him with independent voters.

A Rasmussen Reports poll conducted on Thursday of 750 likely voters showed Chafee garnering the support of 35 percent of respondents, compared to 28 percent for Caprio and 25 percent for Republican John Robitaille. But among independents, Robitaille leads with 38 percent, compared to 29 percent for Chafee and just 15 percent for Caprio. The margin of error was 4 percentage points.

In addition, Chafee polled higher among Democrats, 43 percent to 41 percent. And earlier this year, Caprio approached the Republican National Committee about switching his party affiliation to the GOP for the remainder of the race, but the RNC declined to engage in the offer.

"Caprio is a man without a country," said Robitaille adviser Jamie Burnett. "He and Chafee are both running highly negative campaigns. But, Caprio is now realizing that his path to victory is evaporating and that Robitaille is making a move in the polls."

The Democratic Governors Association largely has stuck by Caprio, but the Republican Governors Association saw an opening in the state and recently spent about $400,000 on advertising in support of Robitaille.

RNC Chair Michael Steele campaigned in Rhode Island today for Robitaille.

Caprio leads Chafee by just 1.7 points and Robitaille by 12 in the RealClearPolitics polling average. RealClearPolitics rates the race a tossup.

Erin McPike is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ErinMcPike.

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