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Peter Phipps
By Peter Phipps June 3, 2015

So Lincoln Chafee — Rhode Island’s Republican-independent-Democrat — is running for President.


The former governor of the smallest —  and at times quirkiest —  state has a PolitiFact record that is as mixed as his political lineage. During the four years that the former Republican U.S. senator served as first the independent and then the Democratic governor of Rhode Island, only once did PolitiFact judge one of his statements Half True.


More often, the Truth-O-Meter swung back and forth from True to False as Chafee battled a stagnant economy and a hostile General Assembly.


PolitiFact put Chafee’s statements to the Truth-O-Meter 15 times. The meter pointed to False and Mostly False eight times and six times to True or Mostly True. There was little middle ground.


His campaign promises showed a greater measure of constancy. Among the promises we rated, the Linc-O-Meter showed a grinning governor half the time, with 16 of 32 promises kept.  In only seven cases, did the judges rule that Chafee had broken a promise.


PolitiFact never lit up Chafee with a Pants on Fire, although candidate Chafee came close in July of 2010 when he mischaracterized Curt Schilling’s bloody sock.


Schilling, star pitcher of the Boston Red Sox, pitched Game 6 of the American League Championship Series in 2004 with a ruptured and dislocated tendon in his right ankle.  Early in the game, the stitches unravelled and the TV audience could see something that looked like blood had soaked into his sock.


Schilling soldiered on, beat the Yankees, and the Red Sox went onto to win their first World Series in 86 years.

A few years later, Schilling, now a retired New England sports hero, bought a video gaming company and convinced the administration of Chafee’s predecessor, Donald Carcieri, to give him a $75-million state loan guarantee.


The company failed and Rhode Island’s taxpayers were left on the hook.


While still a private citizen and as governor, Chafee opposed the deal and, in a radio interview during the campaign, said of Schilling: "I remember one of his teammates said he painted his sock, the bloody sock, that he painted it. Kevin Millar I think said that. I don’t know if I trust Curt Schilling.’’


PolitiFact didn’t know if it could trust Lincoln Chafee. And it turned out that Chafee had taken a rumor and turned it into a fact.


When confronted by PolitiFact, Chafee’s campaign quickly apologized.  A Chafee spokesman said Chafee "regrets that what he intended as an offhand reference to published reports about the bloody sock has deflected attention from the crux of the issue."


Later, the Chafee spokesman was more forthright and managed to get the last laugh by quipping, "Some candidates shoot themselves in the foot. We shot ourselves in the sock."


In November, Chafee went on to win a four-way race for governor with 36 percent of the vote.

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