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Obama Declining to Endorse Caprio?

Frank Caprio won a high-profile endorsement from Bill Clinton, whose centrist "third way" he's tried to emulate in his own run for governor. But an endorsement from the sitting Democratic president, it seems, is not forthcoming. From the Associated Press:

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Weeks before Rhode Island's 2008 Democratic presidential primary, former Republican U.S. Sen. Lincoln Chafee made a high-profile endorsement of Barack Obama.

Now, less than two weeks before the Nov. 2 election that pits Chafee, an independent, against Democratic General Treasurer Frank Caprio and two others in the race to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. Don Carcieri, Obama has so far offered no endorsement. He's scheduled to come to the state Monday to fundraise for congressional candidates, but has no scheduled events with Caprio.

When asked by a reporter earlier this month about the visit, Caprio appeared to know little to nothing about it, saying simply that he would welcome the president to the state.

The White House would not say whether Obama planned to offer an endorsement.

But Chafee's acting campaign manager, Mike Trainor, said they had no indication that Obama would make one.

Caprio spokesman Nick Hemond said Wednesday that Caprio would welcome Obama's support, and that the president's visit was only for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Caprio has not lacked for endorsements from fellow Democrats. They include former President Bill Clinton, whose wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Caprio endorsed in 2008, and Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, who was campaigning with Caprio on Wednesday. He's also been the beneficiary of more than $500,000 in TV ads attacking Chafee that were paid for by the Democratic Governors Association, which Markell chairs.

But the lack of an endorsement from the nation's most important Democrat could be seen as a victory for Chafee, who's trying to attract a broad coalition of voters for his independent candidacy in a state that went 63 percent for Obama in the 2008 general election.

Caprio has rubbed some liberal voters the wrong way by meeting with the National Republican Committee in Washington earlier this year, at a time when he faced a potentially bruising Democratic primary, for reasons that he has yet to fully explain. He is also accused by Republican candidate John Robitaille, a former Carcieri aide, of pressuring him to drop out of the race and support Caprio. He also has publicly contradicted Obama on some important policy positions, such as saying he does not support letting Bush-era tax cuts expire on the wealthiest Americans.

Many of those voters already have positive feelings for Chafee because of his support of environmental causes and record of standing up to President George W. Bush during his time in the Senate, for example, casting the only Republican vote against the Iraq War.

Obama has endorsed several other gubernatorial candidates this year, including Gov. Deval Patrick of neighboring Massachusetts.

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