Candidates at a Glance

The next presidential election in November 2008 will be the first change in presidency since 2000, when most THS students were still in elementary school. This election will also be the seniors’ first chance to vote in an important governmental election. 17 presidential candidates have taken their first steps in campaigning for the presidential race; the most recent Gallup Poll taken September 7-8 will describe the candidates’ current position in national favor.

Eight Democrats have officially announced candidacy: Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Christopher Dodd, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, Barack Obama, and Bill Richardson. Here are the top three:

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton – the eldest of the major Democratic candidates at age 59 – holds the position of Democratic frontrunner, garnering 45% of the vote. Clinton runs a campaign taking a stance on many issues contrary to the current administration, with a heavy concentration on Iraq.

The most important part of Clinton’s Iraq strategy is to end military engagement and begin a quick and careful withdrawal of troops within her first 60 days in office. Clinton plans to follow up the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq with U.N. mediation and major discussions with Iraq’s neighbors, concentrating on funding for Iraqi stabilization and non-involvement in the sectarian civil war.

Senator Clinton aims to lift the ban on stem cell research, which could lead to advancements beneficial to over 100 million Americans. She is also passionate about other social issues, including supporting a woman’s right to an abortion and reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies each year.

Barack Obama
The junior senator of Illinois and bestselling author Barack Obama currently holds second place of the Democratic favor with 24% of the poll vote.

At the core of Senator Obama’s campaign is his comprehensive universal healthcare which he plans to sign into law by the end of his first term in office. This plan would cover all medical services and would lower the average family’s premium by up to $2500. Obama will continue to take steps to remove the waste and inefficiency from the healthcare system to bring down the costs and improve the quality of care.

On the issue of education, Obama hopes to introduce a bill to increase the Federal Pell Grant (the government grant for college tuition) to at least $5100. Proposals to this bill even suggest further increasing the grant to $5400 (roughly 1/3 of the total cost at the University of Texas, Texas State University, and Texas A&M).

Obama is also passionate about recruiting and financially supporting educators for the nation’s schools. At the Take Back America 2007 Conference in June, Barack said, “As president, I will launch a campaign to recruit and support hundreds of thousands of new teachers across the country. It’s time to treat teaching like the profession that it is. It’s time to pay our teachers what they deserve.

John Edwards
John Edwards, the former junior senator of North Carolina for 6 years, holds the third spot with 16% of the Democratic vote. Though a devout Methodist, Edwards is a strong advocate for the separation of church and state, and he asserts that he will not impose his faith belief on the American people.

A defining issue for Edwards is his singular approach to financing students’ college tuition, an issue that could greatly affect THS’s graduates. Edwards’ College Opportunity Agenda is a larger scale version of his smaller pilot project, “College for Everyone,” which succeeded at Greene Central High School in Edwards’ home state of North Carolina. The gist of his agenda is if a student graduates from high school and they’re qualified to go to college and they commit to work at least 10 hours a week when they’re there, the College Opportunity Agenda covers their tuition and books for the first year.

This agenda also involves lowering tuition cost, eliminating subsidies given to banks for providing student loans (which would make $6 billion available to the U.S. Department of Education to make college more affordable), and substantially simplifying financial aid overall.

On the issue of Iraq, Edwards calls for an immediate withdrawal of at least 40,000 – 50,000 troops and a phased withdrawal over approximately one year. Edwards maintains that there is no military solution to the Iraqi conflict.

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Nine of the eleven announced Republican candidates continue in the presidential race: Sam Brownback, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Hickabee, John McCain, Duncan Hunter, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Tom Tancredo, and Fred Thompson. Here are the top three

Rudy Giuliani
Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City (in office during the 9/11 attacks), is considered one of the more moderate-leaning Republican candidates. He managed 34% of Republican favor, a significant lead over the other Republican nominees.

Giuliani’s position on several hot issues is considered relatively moderate compared to most Republican candidates, including abortion. Giuliani emphasizes reducing abortions and increasing the number of adoptions, something he did as New York City’s mayor. Giuliani said, “I think ultimately that decision that has to be made is one that government shouldn’t make. Ultimately, a woman should make that with her conscience and ultimately with her doctor.”
Also contrary to popular Republican stance, Giuliani supports civil unions and equal rights to same-sex couples under law. He, however, does not support gay marriage, as he asserts that marriage is a sacred union between a man and woman.
Giuliani is a staunch supporter of President Bush and his opinion on Iraq, in which he believes leaving is a “terrible mistake.” Giuliani believes the 2003 invasion of Iraq justified based on existing intelligence.

Fred Thompson
The most recently announced candidate, Fred Thompson (AKA: Arthur Branch, the District Attorney on Law and Order), already garners 22% of the Republican poll vote, despite just announcing candidacy September 5th.

Thompson runs with most Republican candidates on key issues, including allowing more legislative power for the states to decide major issues such as civil unions. He also supports an amendment that would prevent a state from being forced to acknowledge an out-of-state same-sex marriage.

Thompson takes a rough stance with immigration shortcomings. He lays a solid, simple answer to the issue: catch illegal immigrants and immediately deport them without criminal charges.

Thompson both supports oil drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (believed to contain an enormous supply of petroleum) and denies CO2 emissions causing global warming. In fact, Thompson supports a relatively new theory that identifies the sun as a major contributor of global warming. This phenomenon has been observed throughout the solar system, and scientists have noticed a correlation between solar radiation and global warming on several neighboring planets.

John McCain
John McCain is the current senior Arizona senator and received the number three spot with 15% of the vote. McCain, a war veteran who spent over five years in the “Hanoi Hilton” POW camp in North Vietnam, is a staunch opponent of torture and the Guantánamo Bay detention facility, which he says he would immediately close and truly expedite the judicial proceedings in prisoners’ cases.

McCain has decided that some issues are best left to be decided by local government. He believes that the legality of gay marriage is an issue best left up to the states to decide; however, his statements have varied over the last few years, leaving his final opinion to be determined.McCain’s believes the subject of creationism being taught in schools is also up to local opinion, charged to school districts. He believes that every American should be exposed to all theories.

McCain has assumed an especially rigid stance with the situation in Iraq, stating he would be the “last man standing” for the United States’ involvement. McCain asserts that the U.S. must maintain its involvement in Iraq, despite benchmarks not being met. He wants to continue U.S. involvement in Iraq for the security of both countries. McCain has said, “If we fail in Iraq, we will see Iraq become a center for al Qaeda, chaos, genocide in the region, and they’ll follow us home.”

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