Who’s Who: The 2016 Democrat and Republican presidential candidates

US Election main

by Darius Wainwright

February 2016 marked the beginning of the Democrat and Republican primaries, where preliminary elections are held to decide who should run for office. In the United States, state level primaries are held from now until June, with Democrat and Republican delegates voting for their preferred presidential candidate. Ahead of the 1st of March – a ‘super Tuesday’ where 14 states declare which Republican and Democrat nominees they think should run for office – here is a brief outline of the remaining candidates.

 

The Republican candidates

 

Jeb Bush

  • Texan born former banker and entrepreneur. His Father, George H. W. Bush, resided in the Oval Office from 1989 to 1993, whilst his brother, George W. Bush, served an eight year term as President between 2001 and 2009.
  • His political experience consists of an eight-year stint as Governor of Florida between 1999 and 2007, being the first Republican incumbent to win two successive state elections in 1998 and 2002.
  • Bush has frequently expressed his support for the notion that Americans should have the right the bear arms. He was recently the subject of much mocking after tweeting a picture of his handgun on emblazoned with ‘Gov. Jeb Bush’.[i]

 

Ben Carson

  • 64-year-old retired neurosurgeon. Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2008 for developing a technique for controlling brain seizures.
  • Was registered as a Democrat until 1981, switching to the Republican Party up until 1999, when he registered as an independent.
  • Re-joined the Republican Party in 2014 so he could nominate himself as a presidential candidate.
Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz

 

Ted Cruz

  • Former Texan Solicitor General and current junior Senator for Texas. Cruz was also George W. Bush’s domestic policy advisor during the 2000 Presidential Election.
  • A supporter of market deregulation, minimal Federal Government interference in state affairs and a keen advocate for the imposition of a flat rate of income tax.
  • Moreover, Cruz is a holder of staunch social conservative views. He supports the death penalty and is vehemently opposed to abortion as well as same-sex marriages and civil unions.
  • Despite winning the Iowa Primary, Cruz is still only second in the polls, trailing by 12.8 points to the frontrunner, Donald Trump.[ii]

 

John Kasich

  • Former Congressman for Ohio, commentator on the Fox News Channel and current Governor of Ohio. Was elected into the latter role in 2010 and re-elected in 2014.
  • In recent weeks, Kasich has enjoyed a surge in poll ratings, jumping ahead of Jeb Bush and Ben Carson. The New York Times attribute this increasing popularity to his positive disposition whilst campaigning.[iii]

 

Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio

 

Marco Rubio

  • Practicing attorney and junior Senator for Florida, assuming office in January 2011.
  • Declaring his candidacy in April 2015, the Florida Senator initially polled poorly. However, his performance in debates between the Republican presidential candidates during the autumn of 2015 saw Rubio’s standing in the polls improve considerably.
  • Holds strong views against same-sex unions and abortion. Rubio also believes that Americans should possess the right to bear arms.
  • In favour of greater US defence spending, keen for the United States to play a more prominent role on the world stage. Rubio has frequently urged America to take a tough stance against countries such as North Korea, Russia and Iran that have historically had a fractured relationship with Washington.

 

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

 

Donald Trump

  • New York City native, businessman and star of the US version of The Apprentice.
  • Has gained notoriety throughout this campaign for his public utterances and policy suggestions. In response to the November and December attacks on Paris and San Bernardino, Trump called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States. Likewise, the billionaire and media personality has proposed the building of a wall across the US-Mexico border to reduce immigration levels.
  • The utterance of such views has been met with stern criticism. Just this week, Pope Francis has accused Trump of being ‘not Christian’ over his beliefs on immigration.[iv]
  • Despite (or because of) this, Trump has proved popular with many working class American voters. He currently enjoys a 14-point lead over his nearest rival, Ted Cruz. His popular appeal amongst Republican grassroots has resulted in Trump, finishing second in the Iowa caucus and winning the New Hampshire primary.

 

The Democrat candidates

 

Hilary Clinton

Hilary Clinton

Hilary Clinton

  • Formerly US Senator for New York (2001 – 2009), Secretary of State (2009 – 2013) and former First Lady to husband Bill.
  • Ran for Democrat presidential nomination in 2008, but lost out to current US President Barack Obama.
  • Declared her intention to run for the Democrat Party candidacy in April 2015. According to the polls, Clinton was (and remains) the frontrunner. Yet in recent months, allegations that she conducted governmental business via her personal email account during her stint as Secretary of State has resulted in a drastic reduction in her lead.
  • Clinton narrowly won the Iowa Caucus, but lost the New Hampshire Primary to Bernie Sanders.
  • An enthusiastic supporter of Barack Obama’s attempts to reform the US health system, promising to continue his work in this area if elected. Clinton is also an advocate of women’s rights, calling for an end to gender wage disparities.

 

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders

 

Bernie Sanders

  • Former Congressman and current Senator for Vermont.
  • Situated on the left of the Democrat Party, regarded by himself and others as a progressive and a socialist. His campaign so far has focused on reducing income and wealth inequality, whilst also pledging to impose a universal healthcare system if elected.
  • Similarly, Sanders adopts a liberal approach to social issues. He has called for worldwide efforts to try and reverse global warming, as well as advocating for the greater recognition of LGBT rights.
  • Sanders initially lagged behind the more moderate Hilary Clinton in the polls. However, Clinton’s recent setbacks, compelled by an upsurge in support for the Vermont Senator and his victory in the New Hampshire primary, have seen this lead narrow considerably. Currently, there is only a 5.5% gap between the Democrat presidential nominees.

______

[i] Jonathan Jones, ‘Jeb Bush’s gun tweet is the portrait of the American nightmare’ The Guardian, 17 February 2016, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb /17/jeb-bush-gun-tweet-american-nightmare-gun-republican-trump.
[ii] All poll data from RealClear Politics.
[iii] ‘A chance to reset the Republican race’. The New York Times, 31 January 2016, http://www.Ny times.com/2016/01/31/opinion/sunday/a-chance-to-reset-the-republican-race.html?_r=1
[iv] ‘Pope Francis questions Donald Trump’s Christianity’ BBC News, 18 February 2016, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-us-2016-35607597.
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