LAS VEGAS—At a press conference here today, Democratic presidential candidate Lincoln Chafee sought to reassure supporters that if elected he would have staffers read bills to him before he signed them if he would ever become temporarily mentally incapacitated because of family emergencies.
Since the debate on Tuesday night, Mr. Chafee has been pilloried from all media corners about the rambling, unconvincing explanation for his 1999 Senate vote to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act, the Depression-era statute that had kept traditional and investment banking separate.
In his explanation during the debate, Mr. Chafee attempted to cite several reasons for his vote, claiming that he was new to the Senate, it was his first bill to vote on, and his father had recently died.
At the Las Vegas press conference, he told reporters that in the debate he was not trying to make excuses for his vote but was just explaining the “extreme personal duress” he was dealing with when he cast the vote.
“I’m sure Anderson [debate moderator Anderson Cooper of CNN] would have voted the same way if he had just came to the Senate floor at a moment’s notice and had to read a complex piece of legislation while still mourning, grieving, and struggling over the loss of a close family member,” the former Rhode Island governor said.
“It was an extremely difficult time personally for me. Voting yes or no on some bill was just not my primary focus or concern that day. Even today, I”m not sure if I read that bill or not.”
Mr. Chafee said if elected president his staff would include “reading aides” to help out in “emergency situations.”
“It’ll never happen again. Believe me. If I’m ever temporarily just overwhelmed again and unable to read well, we’ll have dedicated staff there to read and explain a bill to me. So I won’t mis-vote on any legislation again.”
Holleran N. Yellen II reports on dynamics of 2016 presidential election campaigns.