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Frank Caprio: Obama Can Take His Endorsement and "Shove It"

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Frank Caprio, left, listens to Independent gubernatorial candidate Lincoln Chafee during a debate, Oct. 14, 2010 in Providence, R.I.
AP Photo
Frank Caprio, Barack Obama

Updated at 4:20 p.m. ET

Rhode Island's Democratic candidate for governor Frank Caprio on Monday dissed President Obama for refusing to endorse him, telling a talk radio host that Mr. Obama "can take his endorsement and really shove it as far as I'm concerned."

Mr. Obama travels to the Ocean State today for a set of Democratic fundraisers, as well as a visit to a factory. The White House told reporters yesterday, however, that Mr. Obama will not endorse Caprio or any other candidate in the race. Caprio is in a heated contest against Republican John Robitaille and Republican-turned-Independent Lincoln Chafee -- an early Obama ally when he ran for president.

In an interview with WPRO-AM this morning, Caprio criticized the president for fundraising in Rhode Island today, after ignoring the state during the spring's record flooding.

"Now he's coming into Rhode Island treating us like an ATM machine," he said.

A spokesperson for Caprio told the Providence Journal that the campaign doesn't expect the president's non-endorsement to impact the race. However, he said it did benefit Caprio to be invited to join Mr. Obama today at the Woonsocket factory, as well as the Democratic fundraisers.

Chafee spokesman Mike Trainor, meanwhile, told the Providence Journal that the president's decision "is a victory for Linc Chafee."

A Rasmussen poll released Friday showed Chafee with a 7-point lead, though other recent polls give Caprio a slight lead.

A spokesperson for the Rhode Island Republican Party told the Associated Press that Caprio's response to the president's decision was disrespectful and a sign that the Democrat's campaign is in "meltdown mode."

Update: White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton told reporters today that Mr. Obama decided to stay out of the Rhode Island gubernatorial race ""Out of respect for his friend Lincoln Chafee," CBS News Senior Political Producer Rob Hendin reports.

In response to Caprio's comment that Mr. Obama could "shove it," Burton acknowledged that "emotions are running high" in the race.

Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.