Chafee, one of the most liberal Republicans in the U.S. Senate, is a top target for Democrats in the November 2006 election. The Democrats say the GOP is out of step with Rhode Island voters.
"The Chafee name is obviously a very good name in Rhode Island," Whitehouse told supporters. "But I think the Republican Party has largely abandoned the principles that made the Chafee name so important."
The voters need to send him to Washington, Whitehouse said, because the Republicans "are close to achieving absolute power and we need another Democratic senator to hold the line," the Providence Journal reported Tuesday.
Whitehouse lost a bid for governor in 2002 and may have to get around Rhode Island Secretary of State Matt Brown in the Democrat primary before being able to face Chafee in the general election.