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Four Elephants in a Circus: What you need to know about the GOP Race

News & Features | February 6, 2012

by Eliza Mills and Molly Rubin

Mitt Romney

Socially: Mitt Romney was just kidding when he promised LGBTQ Massachusetts Republicans that he would “provide more effective leadership” than Senator Edward Kennedy. He would like you all to know that he has never, ever been supportive of marriage equality, even if it may have seemed that way in the past. If you’re wondering if there are other issues Romney has changed his mind about, look no further; although he previously supported abortion rights, Romney has taken on a shiny new pro-life position in his presidential campaign.

Politically: Skeptics, including some Republicans, charge Romney with opportunism and having a lack of core principles. The fervor with which Romney adopted his new stances contributes to perceptions of insincerity, which continue to create cracks in his shiny exterior. While governor of Massachusetts, Romney was integral in passing revolutionary universal health care reform; but, since the declaration of his candidacy, he has publicly supported smaller government and privatized health care. Romney is less aggressive about international entanglements; he’s not quick to call for war with China or Iran, though he has been critical of China (a “currency manipulator” that is “stealing our intellectual property”) and is wary of Iran’s nuclear capabilities. He advocates for the return of troops from Afghanistan, though only when military leaders think it’s appropriate. Basically, a tepid and well-rehearsed snooze-fest, if you ask us.

Economically: In January 2009, Romney supported economic stimulus, saying that “government can help make up [for economic losses] in a very difficult time.” After declaring his candidacy, Romney has reversed his position and now speaks out against economic stimulus, though he still supports the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and the government bailout of the auto industry. Romney opposed the Budget Control Act of 2011 during the debt ceiling crisis and instead signed the “cut, cap, and balance” pledge.

Highs: Winning most of the debates. And consistently being just bland enough to poll at number one, as he did again last Tuesday, when he won Florida’s primary by a landslide.

Lows: The release of Romney’s tax returns proves to us he is not only a filthy millionaire, but also a filthy millionaire capable of mastering and luxuriating the corporate tax-code. C’mon, seriously?

Best quotes: “I’ve been looking at some video clips on YouTube of President Obama—then candidate Obama—going through Iowa making promises. The gap between his promises and his performance is the largest I’ve seen, well, since the Kardashian wedding and the promise of ‘til death do we part.”

Best quotes: “We should replace bilingual education with immersion in English so people learn the common language of the country and they learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto.” – Newt Gingrich. Two years later, Gingrich unveils a new Spanish-language website, The Americano.

 

Newt Gingrich

Socially: While he’s technically against same-sex marriage and has publicly come out as pro-life, he has not pledged to propose constitutional amendments that would make them illegal. Honestly, it just seems like he could not be trifled to concern himself with other peoples’ social lives. He’s too important. Spending the majority of his time campaigning against ObamaCare, corporate tax cuts, and government spending, as well as pursuing his newest hobby—Moon Domination—Gingrich hasn’t focused on social issues but rather on his own public persona as America’s doughiest schoolyard bully.

Politically: Gingrich generally favors policies intended to stimulate job growth through reductions in government regulations and federal taxes. He has criticized the Obama administration for its spending, along with its role in the private lives of Americans. He stands firmly against TARP and plans to significantly reduce the size of the Department of Education. However, he’s in full support of the Patriot Act and supports government eavesdropping on suspected terrorists.

Economically: Gingrich favors keeping federal and state taxes as low as possible in order to encourage economic growth. He has stated that he believes the corporate tax rate in the United States is too high, inhibiting job creation. Pointing to emerging competitors such as India and China, which offer lower corporate tax rates than the United States, Gingrich has recommended that the US adopt something similar to Ireland’s 12.5 percent corporate income tax. He proposes eliminating the capital gains tax entirely, for both individuals and businesses, to encourage entrepreneurship.

Highs: 1. Asking his ex-wife, Marianne Gingrich, to be in an open marriage. We understand, Newt; a man’s gotta get it from somewhere, right? 2. Winning the South Carolina Primary. Honestly, who could have seen that coming?

Lows: JUAN WILLIAMS: “Speaker Gingrich, you recently said black Americans should demand jobs, not food stamps. You also said poor kids lack a strong work ethic and proposed having them work as janitors in their schools. Can’t you see that this is viewed, at a minimum, as insulting to all Americans, but particularly to black Americans?”

GINGRICH: “No, I don’t see that.”

 

Ron Paul

Socially: Not as conservative as you’d think (and we know you think about it a lot) but still pretty conservative. He’s declined to sign pledges to constitutionally ban same-sex marriage, but he is anti-choice and supportive of the personhood movement.

Politically: Paul is known in Congress as “Dr. No” because he is a doctor and will vote “NO” for any proposed legislation unless it is specifically authorized by the constitution. The main principle of Paul’s political philosophy is that “the proper role for government in America is to provide national defense, a court system for civil disputes, a criminal justice system for acts of force and fraud, and little else.” Paul’s views on the military and international relations set him apart from the other three candidates; he is extremely opposed to the war in Afghanistan, advocates a peaceful trade relationship with China, and is the only candidate to explicitly oppose any attack on Iran.

Economically: As a libertarian, Paul is pro-privatization and wants the government out of business entirely. He would like to abolish the income tax and is a proponent of the FairTax, which would replace all personal taxes with one broad national consumption tax on retail sales.

Highs: Let’s be honest, Ron Paul peaked long, long ago. His highs probably date back to moments during his gynecological days, before modern medicine made childbirth such a breeze.

Lows: After his son, Senator Rand Paul, was detained by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for refusing a pat-down during a security screening while on the way to an anti-abortion rally, Paul launched a campaign to end the TSA, promising to abolish the institution if elected and urging voters to donate to the cause. Apparently, Paul thinks the government has no business regulating American bodies—unless those bodies belong to pregnant women.

Best quotes: “1913 wasn’t a very good year. 1913 gave us the income tax, the 16th amendment, and the IRS.” (He should know; he was there.)

 

Rick Santorum

Socially: Rick Santorum may have the fashion sensibility of Mr. Rogers, but if you’re socially liberal, any day spent in his neighborhood will be far from beautiful. He’s basically every kind of -ist and -ic a person could be, all wrapped up in a sweater vest. Santorum opposes marriage equality, doesn’t believe that homosexual couples should be able to adopt children, and thinks that abortion should be completely illegal, even in cases of rape or incest.

Politically: Santorum argues that we’re already at war with Iran and that military action cannot be taken “off the table.” As for the actual war in Afghanistan, Santorum believes the US occupation should not end until the Taliban is “neutered.” The only war Santorum doesn’t seem to want to fight is a trade war with China.

Economically: Tax cuts for everyone! But by everyone, he really just means corporations.

Highs: … search found no results.

Lows: Where do we even begin? We could start with spreadingsantorum.com, the first Google result for “Santorum,” and then visit his wife Karen’s six-year relationship with an abortionist (who just so happened to be THE doctor who delivered her, currently kicking it at 96 years young). There’s also his denial that there are any Palestinians living on the West Bank (just not true…), as well as his unsubstantiated attacks on homosexual relationships (sans logic).

Best quotes: “Is anyone saying same-sex couples can’t love each other? I love my children. I love my friends, my brother. Heck, I even love my mother-in-law. Should we call these relationships marriage, too?” (Santorum’s Philadelphia Inquirer column, May 22, 2008)