Frank Caprio, Rhode Island’s Democratic candidate for governor, was candid, if not exactly tactful, when he gave his reaction to the news that President Obama would not be offering him an endorsement when he campaigns in Rhode Island Monday.
“He can take his endorsement and really shove it, as far as I’m concerned,” the clearly disappointed Mr. Caprio told a morning talk show Monday.
If Mr. Obama’s decision seems surprising, remember that Mr. Chafee endorsed Obama two years ago in his presidential primary bid and is close to the president. Also, Chafee is arguably running to the left of Caprio, who is the state's general treasurer.
The non-endorsement is, of course, a backhanded way for Obama to endorse Chafee.
He went on to criticize Obama for not visiting the state or doing a flyover after Rhode Island experienced bad floods in the spring, and he accused the president of now “treating us like an ATM machine.”
He added, “I’ll wear as a badge of honor and a badge of courage that he doesn’t want to endorse me as a Democrat, because I am a different kind of Democrat.”
Obama is scheduled to visit a factory in Woonsocket Monday to talk about jobs – a tour that Caprio was planning to join. On the talk show, however, Caprio indicated that he would no longer appear with Obama – and after his comments, a joint tour might be a bit uncomfortable.
The White House had no comment about Caprio’s remarks Monday, but other candidates were quick to pounce.
Mike Trainor, Chafee’s acting campaign manager, said the remarks were unfortunate.
"The senator was shocked at how intemperate the remark was, especially with the president due to arrive in Rhode Island later today," Mr. Trainor told the Associated Press. "Perhaps the strain of the campaign is wearing on Treasurer Caprio."
Giovanni Cicione, chairman of Rhode Island’s Republican Party, told the AP the remarks were “very disrespectful” and suggested they showed that Caprio was “in meltdown mode.”
The three-way race in Rhode Island, which also includes Republican John Robitaille, has been consistently close between Caprio and Chafee. Until recently, Caprio has held on to a steady, if small, lead, but the most recent poll from Rasmussen Reports gave Chafee an advantage of seven percentage points. The current forecast by Nate Silver, a New York Times polling expert, gives Chafee a slight edge over Caprio.