This November, the US will elect a new President to a four-year term. But to get down to that two-person race (Or will it be three? Keep reading!), we first must go through the primary process. Without a sitting President or Vice-President in the running, the field of candidates is crowded on both sides of the aisle. Early primaries in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Michigan, and Florida are still too close to call. It may not be until the first Tuesday in February, home to nearly 20 state primaries, that the front-runners for the parties’ nominations become clear.
There is also talk of third-party candidates. The social conservatives have mentioned the possibility of running a third-party candidate if the Republican nominee does not meet their criteria. Michael Bloomberg, the independent mayor of New York City, has also fueled speculation about a third-party run, and has begun the process of getting campaign staff and advisers in place. Once the primary process has completed (and Mr. Bloomberg or any other candidates have made their intentions official), we’ll take a more in-depth look at each candidate for the general election. For now, here is THE FATHER LIFE’s overview of the candidates running in the primaries. Each of the candidates have a stance on just about every issue; in reviewing those positions, I found that a lot of them were nearly identical, especially within the same party. Rather than list the same thing over and over, I’m including links to each candidate’s issues page on their website. (Note: As we go to press, none of the candidates have responded to our requests for interviews. We are only profiling candidates polling at 10% or higher.)
Name: Hillary Clinton
Experience: US Senator from New York, 2001 to present; lawyer; also served as First Lady from 1993 to 2001
What backers say: Clinton’s supporters say she’s the right woman for the job. They tout her intelligence and her tough resolve. Recalling the bitter fighting between her husband and the Republicans during the 1990s, Clinton’s supporters say that she is battle-tested and ready for the challenges of moving the country in a different direction. The fact that the much-loved Bill Clinton would be back in Washington, albeit in an unelected and merely ceremonial role, is a bonus for long-time supporters who haven’t seen a Democrat in the White House since Mr. Clinton left in 2001.
What opponents say: While no one questions Clinton’s toughness, opponents point out that her experience is almost exclusively based on the tussles she and her husband have had with Republicans. Already a polarizing figure in the general populace, there are questions about whether or not Clinton can transcend party politics to take the country in a different direction. The tired question of whether or not the country is ready to elect a woman as President is still raised from time to time, but the bigger question opponents raise is whether or not America is ready for this woman to be President.
More info: http://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/
Name: Barack Obama
Experience: US Senator from Illinois, 2005 to present; Illinois State Senator, 1997 to 2004; lawyer
What backers say: A fresh face with a new perspective is what Obama’s supporters see in their candidate. While his positions are not dramatically different from those of his closest rivals, his tone is notably more positive and inclusive. It is this difference, this position of hope and cross-party appeal, that backers say make Obama the prime candidate to win a general election and to change the culture in Washington as he leads the country in a new direction.
What opponents say: The biggest objection to an Obama Presidency–even among his supporters–is his lack of experience in an executive role and his inexperience on the national stage. With barely three years under his belt as a U.S. Senator, Obama is the least experienced of the front-runners in either party. Nagging questions about whether or not America is ready for a black President seem antiquated, but they are still raised by naysayers.
More info: http://www.barackobama.com/issues/
Name: John Edwards
Experience: US Senator from North Carolina, 1999 to 2005; lawyer
What backers say: If ever there was a populist in the Democrat party, it is John Edwards. Running on a platform of eliminating poverty and creating “one America,” Edwards’ proponents say he is the one candidate most dedicated to bringing change to the country. His focus on lifting the downtrodden will give him a cross-party appeal akin to the early administrations of Franklin Roosevelt, and his supporters also note that his personal success is an attractive plus. The hardened cynics in his camp point out that Southern white males have won every national election since 1992 (make that 1988 if you allow for George H.W. Bush’s adoption of Texas as his home state), and Edwards is the only leading Democrat who fits that bill.
What opponents say: With only one term served in the U.S. Senate, Edwards, like Obama, faces experience questions. His personal financial success has been as a trial lawyer winning huge payouts and settlements, which is sure to be an issue in a general election. Opponents also believe that many of his proposals are too revolutionary, pushing the bounds of what the general public may be willing to vote for.
More info: http://johnedwards.com/issues/
Name: Mike Huckabee
Experience: Governor of Arkansas, 1996 to 2007; Lt. Governor of Arkansas, 1993 to 1996; pastor
What backers say: With more experience in an elected executive office than any other leading candidate, Huckabee’s supporters believe their candidate is best prepared for the Presidency. A popular governor, his tenure in Arkansas was hailed by many as one of the best state administrations in the nation. Backers also point out that he won multiple elections in a heavily Democrat state and carried a significant percentage of the minority vote, making Huckabee an excellent candidate to win cross-party support in a national election. With southern and western governors winning the White House in all but one election since 1968, proponents say a Huckabee candidacy is the GOP’s best bet.
What opponents say: On taxes, education, spending, and immigration issues, Huckabee has a hybrid track record that does not fit comfortably on the right or the left–making him the target of conservatives and liberals alike. Opponents also fault the prevalence of faith in Huckabee’s campaigning, saying that fact, combined with the fact that he is an ordained minister, will make him unelectable. Huckabee has also been criticized for his lack of experience in national security and foreign policy, bread-and-butter issues for many Republican voters.
Name: Rudy Giuliani
Experience: Mayor of New York City, 1994 to 2001; US Attorney with various positions in the Department of Justice, 1970 to 1977 and 1981 to 1989; lawyer
What backers say: Dubbed “America’s Mayor” after his stellar performance as mayor of New York City during and after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Giuliani’s supporters like to point out that everybody loves Giuliani. His 9/11 experience and his record of cleaning up crime-ridden New York are touted by supporters as indicative of his strength on national security issues. Proponents cite his election in the heavily Democrat city and his socially liberal positions as keys to winning over independent and Democrat voters in a general election.
What opponents say: Giuliani’s chief opponents are the social conservatives, who, because of his liberal positions, have promised to run a third-party candidate should Giuliani win the Republican nomination, potentially splitting the Republican vote a la Perot in 1992. Other opponents question whether the rough-and-tumble Giuliani could effectively work with a Democrat-controlled legislature. Questions are also raised about translating his crime-fighting and 9/11 experience into qualifications for national security and foreign policy issues. Beyond that, opponents point out that a truly northeastern candidate hasn’t been elected to the Presidency since John Kennedy in 1960.
More info: http://www.joinrudy2008.com/issues/
Name: John McCain
Experience: US Senator from Arizona, 1987 to present; US Representative from Arizona, 1983 to 1987; US Navy pilot
What backers say: The leading candidate with the longest record of public service, John McCain is hailed by supporters as the most experienced man for the job. His track record, though not hard-line conservative by any means, is principled and consistent. McCain backers–and even his opponents–praise his military career, and he is almost universally viewed as the candidate most qualified on issues of national security. His age (at 71, the oldest leading candidate on either side) and his experience combined are viewed by proponents as a key selling point, with McCain as the wise, mature candidate amidst a field of candidates decades younger with much less political experience.
What opponents say: Known for years as a “maverick” Republican, the party faithful are not quick to forget the points where McCain has vocally and pointedly differed from the party line. Opponents also make note of his age and experience, but to negative effect: in a country fed up with Washington politics and ready for change, an established politician with decades in Congress is not likely to garner much support, and a candidate who wouldn’t take office until after his 72nd birthday may just be too old for America’s youth-obsessed culture.
More info: http://johnmccain.com/Informing/Issues/
Name: Mitt Romney
Experience: Governor of Massachusetts, 2003 to 2007; CEO Salt Lake City Olympic Committee, 1998 to 2002; executive, Bain & Company and Bain Capital, 1978 to 1998
What backers say: Romney’s supporters see a lot to love in their candidate. Elected governor as a Republican in one of the bluest of blue states, Romney is a great choice for a general election. Savior of the Salt Lake City Olympics, Romney is great at crisis management. An extremely successful private executive, Romney has a proven himself as a leader. An outsider to Washington, Romney is best prepared to bring about real change. That’s what Romney’s backers will tell you, and it is an impressive list.
What opponents say: Questions about Romney changing his position on a number of issues, most notably abortion, have dogged his campaign from the beginning, and his best efforts to quell them have be ineffective. Opponents see him as nothing more than a typical politician, holding to a position only so long as it is politically expedient. He has also been criticized for negative campaigning and for factual inconsistencies, and opponents like to point out that Romney comes across as almost too smooth and too rehearsed, which only feeds the “typical politician” stereotype.
More info: http://mittromney.com/Issues/index
Name: Fred Thompson
Experience: US Senator from Tennessee, 1994 to 2003; lawyer, lobbyist, and actor
What backers say: Thompson supporters say he is the most conservative candidate in the GOP field. For the Republican faithful, that translates as “the best man for the job.” Thompson’s campaign has stressed a principled approach to government, which, along with his career as an actor, remind Thompson’s supporters of Ronald Reagan, the man whose posthumous blessing every candidate seems to seek.
What opponents say: An apparent lack of excitement for the campaign has fueled Thompson’s opponents, who like to paint him as a tired old man who doesn’t really want the job. Some of his lobbying and legal work has been brought up by various opponents, but it has had very little impact on the campaign. Thompson has also found opponents among those who believe that a conservative purist cannot be competitive in a general election, preferring someone with populist or moderate tendencies.
Ben Martin is the CEO of THE FATHER LIFE. He lives with his wife and five children in the Rochester, NY, area.