Race to the Whitehouse

By Kate Douglas

If you are more than slightly confused as to what is happening with all the voting taking place in the American states, then don’t be ashamed, it is confusing stuff. With Republican candidates arguing who supported the war in Iraq first and Democratic candidates launching into speeches on Martin Luther King, or bursting into tears at the sheer difficulty of campaigning, many are confused.

How it works:

At present voters from each state are casting ballots for the candidate they wish to run for president in the General Election set for November this year. Just to complicate matters, each state has its own way of voting for their candidates. A primary election is where registered voters within a jurisdiction select a political party’s candidate for a later election. In some state primaries, voters have to be a registered Democratic or Republican in order to vote for their respective candidates. Caucuses may also nominate candidates through elections but involve discussions of parties and political issues.

Once each state has voted for their candidates the Republican and Democratic parties both officially select their candidate for president at their individual national conventions. So this is why candidates of the same party are undermining and debating against candidates belonging to their own party. Since campaigning relies heavily on funding and it becomes clear from the early primaries and caucuses which candidates are the frontrunners, many candidates drop out. It therefore becomes easier to compare and identify candidates. So who are they?

For the lefties

Let’s start with the Democratic Party. It seems that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are the leading contenders according to early primaries and caucuses. CNN and other media producers have focused particularly on these two democratic candidates as the winner could potentially be the first black or female president of the United States.

Hillary Clinton is no stranger to the White House as she was First Lady when her husband Bill Clinton was President from 1993 to 2001. Her experience is one of her campaigning angles. Clinton is also the U.S. Senator from New York. Although she initially voted as a member of the Senate for the war in Iraq, she now states that if she becomes president then she will bring an immediate end to it. Other policies proposed include her health care plan that would require health care coverage for all U.S. citizens.

Barack Obama, in spite of his name sounding similar to Osama, is extremely popular amongst American democrats. He was the U.S. Senator from Illinois and his campaign slogan is “change, we can believe in” which can be seen as a direct attack at Clinton’s promises of change. Obama also promises to end the war in Iraq if he is elected president but unlike Clinton he claims to have been opposed the war from the start. His campaign also proposes universal health care.

Obama and Clinton definitely seem to see each other as their major opposition with their relentless attacks on each other’s campaign. In fact other democratic competitors, such as John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich, have recently dropped out of what, they must see, a pointless race. However, at the time of going to print, former U.S. Senator of Alaska, Mike Gravel, is still a contender that should not be overlooked.

Right, now for the Republicans

Determining the leading frontrunners of the Republican Party is not as clear and CNN reports seem to suggest that it is “anyone’s game”. Still, early state primaries give us clues to who the leading candidates are.

Mitt Romney was the former Governor of Massachusetts and his views on social issues are in line with those of traditional conservatives. He is in agreement with the USA’s current situation in Iraq. His presidential campaign calls for a “Surge of Support” for the military and he wishes to increase military spending to at least 4% of the United States Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Romney has clearly stated that he is against same sex marriage and abortion. However his pro-life attitude seems to be contradicted with his support of the death penalty.

John McCain is the U.S. Senator from Arizona who is also a Vietnam veteran who was held as a prisoner of war for five and a half years. Like Romney and most republicans McCain supports the ongoing War in Iraq, the death penalty, gun control and is against abortion. However, unlike Romney, he is strongly opposed the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” in the War on Terror which he calls torture. McCain also supported the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 which was not popular amongst republicans. This act proposed legal citizenship for roughly 12 million illegal immigrants currently living in the United States but never gain majority support in the Senate.

Another popular republican candidate is Mike Huckabee, the U.S. Representative from Texas. He was pastor of several Southern Baptist churches and believes that it is impossible to separate politics from religion. Hackabee believes in Biblical inerrancy which is the doctrine that the Bible is without error and contradiction. Hackabee is also against same sex marriages, abortion and is a supporter of the War in Iraq and the death penalty. However, he differs from McCain and Romney as he is opposed gun control. Hackabee also asserts that he wishes to amend the Constitution to prevent children born in the United States to illegal immigrants from automatically gaining American citizenship.

As already mentioned, the CNN political analysts believe that it is almost impossible to predict the republican frontrunners. Nevertheless, the results of the votes cast on 5 February will give us a better idea of who the possible party nominees are. As soon as the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees have been announced, you can trust Activate to bring you a complete comparison between the two possible candidates for president of the USA.

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