U.S. Presidential Candidates Differ Widely on Issues

Author: ZENIT



Comparison of Democratic, Republican, and Reform Candidates

ROME, 26 JAN 2000 (ZENIT).

As the U.S. primary season gets underway, Americans are reviewing the stances of the candidates to choose the right person to govern the country for the next four years. This election is especially important, as it is probable that the next president will appoint three Supreme Court justices, establishing the balance of power in that body for some time. The Court currently has 4 strongly pro-choice members, 3 strongly pro-life members, and two "swing votes."

The Republicans

In general, the Republicans favor less government involvement in businesses and the states. Poverty programs tend to be in the areas of education rather than direct handouts. In recent years, they have also been more consistently pro-life and pro-family than the Democrats, though there have been notable exceptions. Some Republicans are now pushing for the party to downplay its pro-life stances (as "divisive"), but this risks alienating their "religious right" constituency.George W. Bush

The son of former President George Bush, George W. Bush is the frontrunner among the Republican candidates. He is against abortion, but supports exceptions for rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother. He has, however, indicated that he would not have problems with appointing Supreme Court justices or a running mate that differed with him on this issue. He proposes spending at least as much on abstinence education as on contraception programs.

Bush has promised to be tough on crime, increasing the lengths of sentences. Texas is well-known throughout the world for its notably high numbers of executions. He opposes gun control, but supports a ban on automatic weapons.

The Texas governor also supports increased military spending, including a missile defense system; he is prepared to cancel the ABM treaty with Russia if necessary to install such a defense system. In foreign policy, he is interventionist, and sees China as competitor, not a strategic partner; however, he supports China's admission into the WTO. In general, he wants to eliminate trade barriers and tariffs.

Bush does not support the extension of hate crime laws to protect gays, nor the recognition of same-sex marriages. He has no problem with gays in the military, supporting Clinton's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Bush supports education vouchers for students in private schools, which would enable parents who choose this option to receive tax rebates.Malcolm (Steve) Forbes Jr.

The publisher of "Forbes" magazine is also seeking the Republican nomination. As to abortion, he is pro-life, supporting the procedure only in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. He says that he would work to "restore the severely weakened moral foundations of our country."

Forbes wants to get tougher on crime, with a "one strike and you're out" policy for violent felons, eliminating all possibility for parole. He is interested in victims rights as well. Felons should not have the right to buy guns, but he does not support a wider ban. Armed crimes would carry mandatory jail time if Forbes enacts his plans.

Forbes is concerned about recent cuts in military spending, which he claims have reduced America's military readiness. He leans toward isolationism, saying that U.S. troops should not be on foreign soil. He is cautious about extending China's Most Favored Nation status. He supports free trade, and wishes to limit the use of U.S. money in the International Monetary Fund.

On the issue of homosexuality, Forbes is more severe than Bush, stating that openly gay men and women should not be permitted to serve in the military. Gay Republicans call him "hypocritical," since his father was openly homosexual.

School choice is supported by Steve Forbes, who would create K-12 educational savings accounts to help parents. He is especially concerned that low-income parents are unable to choose under the current system.

Orrin Hatch

Orrin Hatch is a Senator from Utah. He worked as an attorney in Pennsylvania and Utah before his election to the Senate. Hatch wants to appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices, but is open to having a pro-choice vice president. On moral issues, his Senate voting record has matched the positions of the "Christian Coalition" 82 percent of the time.

Hatch has introduced legislation to help fund investigations of hate crimes, though he would not extend the "hate crime" label to homosexuals or disabled people. He supports a "10-20-life" plan, with 10 years in prison for armed felony, 20 years for firing a gun in committing a felony, and life imprisonment for killing or harming someone in the course of a felony. However, he opposes gun control, supporting instead tougher enforcement of existing laws. He suggests that handguns should be manufactured with mandatory locks.

Hatch is in favor of increased military spending and his views clash with those of the "Professional's Coalition for Nuclear Arms Control." He tends to be interventionist and wants to promote counter-intelligence programs. He supports free trade.

Hatch's opposition to homosexuality is based in the Bible. He believes that gay lifestyle is a choice, and hence should not be protected with special laws.

Hatch supports school choice and charter schools, funded at the local level.Alan Keyes

Alan Keyes was an official in the Reagan administration. He is the only African American seeking the nomination of a major party. He is also a practicing Catholic. As such, his stance on abortion is tough -- the only exception made is the case where fetal death is a collateral consequence of efforts to save a mother's life. He supports school prayer, but is against sex education. He wants to reintroduce moral education into the curriculum.

On defense spending, Keyes feels that some cuts have gone too far. He would reduce spending in some areas of defense while increasing others. He supports a non-interventionalist foreign policy, guided by national interests, not the U.N. He would move to withdraw from the U.N. if it threatened American independence on international affairs. He believes that free government is more important than free trade, and that the WTO was a big policy mistake.

While Keyes is concerned about crime, he said that "I've never been somebody who thought that you should be applying capital punishment indiscriminately." However, he believes the procedure is necessary in certain instances in order for society to show respect for life. He would impose capital punishment for convicted international drug traffickers. He opposes gun control on the basis of the Second Amendment.

Keyes strongly opposes recognition of same-sex relationships as marriages. He considers this a destructive assault on the heterosexual, marriage-based family."

Keyes also strongly favors school choice to empower parents to send their children to schools reflecting their faith and values.John S. McCain

John McCain is a Senator from Arizona. During the Viet Nam conflict, he served 5 1/2 years as a POW in Hanoi.

He is against abortion, except for cases of incest, rape, or when the life of the mother is endangered. He specifically targets partial-birth abortion. He made some comments in the early campaign however, that have some pro-life activists doubting his sincerity on the issue. On moral issues, Senator McCain voted with the "Christian Coalition" 73% of the time.

McCain wants to broaden the application of the death penalty at the federal level. He opposes parole for violent crimes, and would increase spending to build prisons. Youths accused of felonies would be tried as adults. Senator McCain opposes gun control laws, saying that the necessary laws are already on the books. He does support instant background checks at gun shows. He would remove all federal restriction on the purchase and possession of firearms for law-abiding citizens.

Defense spending would be increased under McCain, who wants to "restructure" the military. Force should only be used to protect U.S. interests, and only with clear rules of engagement, according to his campaing material. As Senator, he demanded a ground invasion of Kosovo and counselled coercive action against North Korea. He criticized "the extremely limited scale" of bombing raids in Iraq. He supports the North American Free Trade Agreement.

McCain has met with gay Republicans during the campaign, and supports the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

McCain supports school choice and wants to give more control to parents and teachers. He would support vouchers to allow parents to send their children to any publicly funded school.

The Democrats

The Democrats are labeled as the "liberals" in U.S. politics, though by European standards, most are "center left" or even slightly conservative. They typically support increased governmental control over industry, as well as welfare subsidies for the poor. On moral issues, they are normally pro-choice and pro-homosexuality.Bill Bradley

Bill Bradley is a former Senator from New Jersey. He also played in the NBA and was a Rhodes Scholar in college. He is strongly pro-choice, seeking strong measures against clinic terrorism. He is concerned about hate crimes, and wants to make tolerance and racial unity "a common sense notion."

Bradley supports a federal death penalty for first-degree murders in the District of Columbia and voted against restricting capital punishment in some crimes. However, he supports the right of those convicted to appeal in the Federal courts. He voted against funding international narcotics control programs, but supports tough gun control measures.

Bradley feels that by eliminating unnecessary weapons systems, the country can get by with modest increases in defense spending. He says that the U.S. should depend on international organizations to respond to ethnic conflicts. He sees relations with Mexico, Japan, China, Russia, and Germany as key to American economic interests and advocates free trade and open markets.

Bradley supports gays serving in the military openly. He feels that civil rights also applies to sexual orientation. However, he is cautious about giving state sanction to same-sex marriages.

Bradley is strongly against any plan that would divert funding from public schools to private schools (vouchers). He says that after approving various experiments, he does not believe that vouchers will help public education.Albert (Al) Gore Jr.

Al Gore is Clinton's Vice-President. He was previously a Senator from Tennessee. He is pro-choice, saying that abortions should be "safe and rare." He wants to increase security around abortion clinics. As Senator, Gore's votes on moral issues coincided with "Christian Voice" only 9% of the time.

Gore's web site says that he helped to design one of the most successful anti-crime strategies in modern history: more community police, tougher punishment, and smarter prevention. He supports gun control and background checks.

Gore supports a strong military and development of advanced weaponry. He believes America should lead the way in promoting universal freedom and democracy. He would expand U.S. investments abroad and supports free trade.

The Vice President supports ENDA, a federal employment non-discrimination law for gays and lesbians. He is also willing to support legal protections for "domestic partnerships." He considers the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy to be discriminatory.

Gore opposes school vouchers, saying that they would hurt public schools. He wants every classroom connected to the Internet. He also wants to expand after-school care for children as a solution to the drug problem.

The Reform Party The Reform Party was formed by Ross Perot as an alternative to the traditional two-party system. Reform Party candidates and members can be all over the map as regards the various issues, as is clear from this year's two candidates. They tend, however, to be fiscally conservative.Patrick J. (Pat) Buchanan

Pat Buchanan is a political commentator on CNN. He was an aide to President Nixon, but has since left the Republicans for the Reform Party. He believes that life begins at conception and would push a Constitutional amendment to protect the rights of the unborn. He would consider pro-life stance as a "litmus test" for potential running mates or Supreme Court nominees. He feels that "America is locked in a cultural war for the soul of our country." He supports the re-establishment of traditional values: patriotism, loyalty, courage, and decency.

While general tough on crime, Buchanan would allow medicinal use of marijuana by the terminally ill. He opposes gun control, believing that it would not curb violence.

Buchanan holds that America must restore its military might in order to contain threats abroad. He also supports deploying a missile defense system. However he favors an isolationist policy. Once a firm supporter of sanctions against "rogue nations," he now says that the U.S. embargo is the main pillar of Castro's power. He cited the Holy Father's and U.S. Bishops' opposition to the embargo in a speech last December: "These clerics are giving witness to the deepest traditions of Christian ethical teaching on the most difficult of human problems." He is in favor of tariffs to protect American jobs.

Buchanan supports tuition vouchers and tax-free education savings accounts. He wants to abolish the Department of Education, returning control to the communities.Donald Trump

Donald Trump is a real estate developer. He joined the Reform Party because Democrats were too liberal and Republicans too far to the right. He has not presented positions on all of the issues. He supports abortion rights, but says that he is personally uncomfortable with the procedure. He is not a moral crusader by any means, having "talked sex" with shock radio host Howard Stern on a national program.

He supports isolationist foreign policy, agreeing with Pat Buchanan that the U.S. is overextended. He "hates" the North American Free Trade Agreement, and would repeal Most Favored Nation status for China. ZE00012620

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