It's a gorgeous day here in the Ocean State, and the buzz in the air is that no one yet has any idea who will win this Republican primary. Senator Lincoln Chafee, the most liberal Republican in the Senate, is being challenged by Steve Laffey — a conservative. But get this: the White House, and the entire GOP party establishment, is supporting Chafee. Not because they really like his politics, but because they think he's the guy who can win in this largely Democratic state. In fact, if Chafee loses here today, the national Republicans say they'll throw in the towel, handing a seat that has been occupied by the GOP for the past 30 years to the Democrats.
But they're not giving up easily. At Chafee headquarters today, teams of door-knockers, drivers and assorted other Chafee supporters set out to do what the GOP does best — get out the vote. This primary will hinge on whom gets his voters to the polls because it's kind of quirky in Rhode Island: independents are allowed to vote in the GOP primary. And since Republican officials know that Chafee is waaaayyyy too liberal for most Republicans, they're working to get out the independents to vote for their man.
None of this sits well with the GOP challenger, Steve Laffey. In fact, when we caught up with him this morning as he had an iced-tea, his anger towards the Washington GOP establishment was not exactly hidden. He called the ads that Chafee and the GOP party are running against him "vicious, vicious," and then told the national GOP to "leave the state, go back to Washington, just stay there until November 7" if he wins.
Right now, what will happen is anyone's guess. We'll be following the story as it happens for CBS. This is a real cliffhanger and I'll be following it here in Rhode Island with my colleagues, producers Steve Chaggaris and Ward Sloane.