Barack Obama -- Democrat Barack Obama was born August 4, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii. His childhood is marked with extreme conflict and struggle. The son of a Caucasian mother from Wichita, Kansas and a Kenyan father from Nyanza Province, Kenya, his parents divorced when he was just two years old. His father was later to die in an automobile accident when he was 21 years old, and meanwhile his mother remarried and the family moved to Jakarta, Indonesia, in 1967, where he attended public school. Then he returned to Hawaii Punahou School until his graduation in 1979. He has many times expressed his difficulty in dealing with his multi-cultural, multi-national, and broken-home upbringing. His mother was also later to die of cancer in 1995, compounding his feelings of social isolation. He first attended Occidental College for two years before transferring to Columbia University. He majored in political science and specialized in international relations, receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1983. He eventually ended up in Chicago working as a community organizer, while also entering Harvard Law School by 1988. He graduated magna cum laude with a Juris Doctor degree in 1991. He began practicing law of a sort from 1993 to 1996, by directing a voter registration drive, and joining a law firm where he took on cases involving community organizers, discrimination claims, and voting rights. In 1996 he began lecturing at the University of Chicago Law School about constitutional law, and he was also elected in that same year to the Illinois State Senate, representing the 13th district of south Chicago. He was to be re-elected to this position in 1998 and 2002. Barack Obama's work in the State Senate was diverse and active. He drafted or sponsored legislation on ethics and health care reform, a law enhancing tax credits for low-income workers, welfare reform, and increasing subsidies for child care. He also introduced legislation to mandate videotaping of homicide interrogations, and a law to monitor racial profiling by police. He also got an endorsement from the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, for being immensely helpful in working with police organizations on death penalty reform. He eventually dropped out of the State Senate to seek election to the United States Senate in 2003. He is well-known for a keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts, in which he shared some background of his family, spoke on the government's role in citizen's lives, questioned the ethics of President Bush's war in Iraq, and ended with a plea for national unity. This speech earned him new fame, allowing his to make an early impression on many voters. From this speech, he launched his bid for U. S. Senate. He won the position of the U. S. Senator from Illinois by a landslide vote that was the largest electoral victory in Illinois history. In the Senate, he sponsored 152 resolutions and bills brought before the 109th Congress in 2005 and 2006, and he co-sponsored another 427. A great deal of this had to do with immigration policy and reform, including the Secure Fence Act and the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act. Two more initiatives he introduced were one to regulating military weapons, and one to create a web access point run by the Office of Management and Budget, which lists all organizations receiving Federal funds. He also enacted the Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act. Barack Obama has announced his candidacy for United States President as of February of 2007. He bases much of his platform on duty to the American people as a public servant and the uniting of government co-operation across party lines. Being a younger candidate, he is the first Presidential candidate to focus on at least bringing some kind of regulation to the Internet, by making a stand for net neutrality and the right of all users to have democratic access to the Internet. He has demonstrated remarkable interest in technology issues, and has even met with companies like Google to discuss possible policy. He also has plans for early childhood education, math and science education. Barack Obama is a revolutionary candidate in many ways. He is a rapid departure from the so-called "Good Old Boys" network of Caucasian oil billionaires and cronies. He is a centrist Democrat, taking a moderate-to-hard left Liberal stance while proposing that he can unite the government's two parties to work together. This means that he intends to pull the right wing over to his side, rather than try to please everybody by walking the line in between. Count on Barack Obama to also connect well with younger voters and "Generation Y". Mitt Romney -- Republican Mitt Romney was born March 12, 1947, in Detroit, Michigan. He comes from a political family; his father was Michigan Governor George W. Romney, who also made a Presidential run in 1968, and his mother ran for U.S. Senate in 1970. He graduated from the Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and then attended Stanford University briefly before leaving to begin a 30 month mission in Europe as a missionary for the Mormon Church. After this, he attended Brigham Young University and got a Bachelor of Arts degree by 1971. He then attended in a joint JD/MBA program between Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School, from which he earned a Juris Doctor for law and an MBA Master of Business Administration. This gives him the rare case of being a lawyer, business manager, missionary, and member of a family with political connections all at the same time. In fact, his ties to the Mormon church are deeper than usual; his great-great-grandfather, Parley P. Pratt, was one of the founding members of the Mormon religion. For his part, he has served as a part-time lay minister, and has also served as stake president in his church. However, he has stated that he believes that "a president must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States", and he has proposed to serve no single religion, group, cause, nor interest. Mitt Romney's first job after graduating was as a member of Boston Consulting Group in 1974. Then he moved to another Boston-based management consulting firm, Bain & Company, Inc., where he served as vice president for six years. In 1984, he founded his own company, Bain Capital, which he served as CEO for 14 years. In the process, he enjoyed phenomenal business success, either investing in or buying companies including Staples, Brookstone, Domino's, Sealy Corporation and Sports Authority. In 1990, he returned to Bain & Company as a favor to bail out the ailing corporation. He took over management and turned it around into a profitable business again within a year's time. Beginning in 1998, he also headed the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games Organizing Committee, and again turned it into business success. As a result of his business smarts, he has a net worth estimated around $230 million. He had a less successful start in politics, when he lost a bid for U.S. Senate to Senator Ted Kennedy in 1994. Biding his time in the business sector, he ran again in 2002, this time for Governor of Massachusetts, and won, being sworn in on January 2, 2003. Putting his amazing financial prowess to work for the government, he walked in with a $3 billion deficit and managed the state back into the black ink, into a $700 million surplus by 2006. However, he did this by raising taxes and fees, closing tax loopholes, and cutting spending by $1.6 billion, including $700 million in reductions in state aid to cities and towns. In other words, the citizens bailed out the state, under his supervision. Being Governor of Massachusetts also placed him in the hot seat regarding same-sex marriage, when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court made the decision for legalizing same-sex marriages in November of 2003. Caught in the middle between a Supreme Court ruling and his religious beliefs, he compromised with instead only allowing same-sex civil unions, but later reneged and went back to banning them wholesale. In 2005, he announced that he would not seek a second term, and his term as Governor ended in 2007, declaring his candidacy for United States President almost the same day. Mitt Romney is seen as a hard-right religion-based Republican, who capitalizes on his business acumen. He can count on the support of the Mormon church, the business sector, and financially concerned citizens who are critical of current Federal fiscal policy which has the country currently in a massive debt. He also brings a hefty bankroll to the table, having supplied over $17 million to his own campaign, staying easily ahead of other candidates who must count on campaign contributions. Joe Biden -- Democrat Joe Biden was born November 20, 1942 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He graduated in 1961 from the Archmere Academy in Claymont, Delaware, and in 1965, from the University of Delaware in Newark. He graduated in 1968 from Syracuse University College of Law, and was admitted to the Delaware Bar in 1969. In that year, he began to practice law in Wilmington, Delaware, until 1970, when he was also elected to the Council of New Castle County, Delaware. His career took a dramatic turn of pace when he was elected to the U.S. Senate as the Senator from Delaware in 1972. He assumed this office in 1973, being the age of just 30. This made him the fifth-youngest U.S. Senator in the history of the United States, and he has continued to win additional terms into the present day, where he is currently the longest-serving U.S. Senator in Delaware history, the fourth-longest serving Democrat Senator, and the sixth-longest serving Senator in office. He has served on a number of committees in the 110th United States Congress. He has acted as Chairman in the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs, and has co-chaired the Caucus on International Narcotics Control. Additionally, he has served as a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, the Subcommittee on Antitrust Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, the Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law, the Subcommittee on Immigration Border Security and Citizenship, and the Subcommittee on Technology Terrorism and Homeland Security. Previously, he has been a Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary from 1987 to 1995, and has been a ranking minority member on that committee for a much longer period. More recently, he has been the ranking minority member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations starting in 1997, and Chairman of this committee from 2001 until 2003. Joe Biden has been responsible for the creation of many Federal crime laws throughout his career, with a chief focus on drug crimes, crimes against women and minorities, and crimes against civil liberties. He was elemental to the formation of the commonly-known "Drug Czar" policy. The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 is one of his most famous accomplishments. He has also introduced the "RAVE Act" (Reducing Americans' Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act) and the "VAW Act" (Violence Against Women Act). He has also passed legislation to improve education, with college aid and loan programs, and spear-headed the "Kids 2000" legislation to promote the accessibility of computers and the Internet to low-to-middle-income children and the vocational training of children in technology careers. Having been a "career Senator" for 35 years spanning the terms of 7 Presidents, he has now announced his candidacy for President as of January, 2007. He previously sought election to President in 1988, but quit the race early in December of 1987. He was replaced as the Democrat front-runner by Michael Dukakis. Previous to this, he had been nominated as a Presidential candidate in 1984, even to the point of winning one vote from the Democratic National Convention, but declined the nomination. Politically, Joe Biden has gotten a reputation as the "sensible center of the Democratic party". He has been neither too extreme to the left nor wavered too far from his Democratic stance. With his record, he is easily able to win votes from the "tough on crime" crowd. Women and minority voters can find something to like in his past work, and he also has some claim to call himself "pro-education". Most importantly, he can stand firmly on his career as a "Washington insider" who knows how to get things done. During previous debates, so common did the phrase "Joe's right" repeat that he has now made that phrase his campaign slogan. He is very glib and well-spoken, and quick with a sound-bite for the media whenever a microphone is around. Most recently, he has been investigating into the scandal of deleted videotapes showing the interrogation of suspected terrorists, which is an issue that has been in the news and hence on voter's minds. John McCain -- Republican John McCain was born August 29, 1936, in Panama at the Coco Solo Air Base during the American control of the Panama Canal Zone. However, he is an American citizen, by virtue of being the son of an enlisted serviceman serving the United States and being on American-controlled soil at the time of his parent's active duty. He comes from a long line of ancestors with United States military careers. He attended naval base schools wherever his father was deployed, at various Pacific Ocean stations including New London, Connecticut, Pearl Harbor, and Hawaii. After the conclusion of World War 2, he attended St. Stephen's School in Alexandria, Virginia, and then Episcopal High School in Alexandria, where he graduated in 1954. He followed in the footsteps of his family's military history by joining the United States Naval Academy, and went on to graduate from Annapolis in 1958. He was commissioned as an ensign naval aviator in training at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida and Naval Air Station Corpus Christi in Texas for over two years. Despite a couple of mishaps in flight crashes from which he escaped injury, he graduated from flight school in 1960 and became a naval pilot of attack fighter aircraft. John McCain's first assignment was a station on the aircraft carriers USS Intrepid and USS Enterprise, in the Caribbean Sea during 1962, which put him square in the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis, one of the major confrontations of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. He then served as a flight instructor at Naval Air Station Meridian in Mississippi, which had a piece of real estate, McCain Field, that just happened to be named after his grandfather in recognition of his grandfather's service. In December 1966, he was stationed on the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal, where he began missions flying A-4 Skyhawks. By 1967, the USS Forrestal was deployed as part of Operation Rolling Thunder during the Vietnam War. He flew several attack missions over North Vietnam without serious incident, and he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander. On July 29, 1967, however, he was almost killed in action when a rocket struck his jet as he was launching from the deck. McCain managed to escape the burning jet seconds before the jet's bombs detonated from the flames, and the detonation sprayed McCain's legs and chest with shrapnel. He was lucky to survive, as the ensuing fire killed 132 sailors, and injured 62 others, with the incident, recorded by flight-deck video, still used today in U.S. Navy Recruit Training damage control classes. McCain volunteered for further duty, and by late October 1967, had flown a total of 22 bombing missions. He then became a prisoner of war when a Soviet missile shot down his Skyhawk during an attack run, forcing him to parachute down behind enemy lines in Truc Bach Lake in Hanoi. With heavy injuries, he was surrounded by the enemy, who beat him viciously and transported him to Hanoi's main prison. They refused him treatment, and beat and interrogated him, but the famous name of his family saved him. When the North Vietnamese discovered that he was the son of a famous top admiral, they hospitalized him and alerted the media to his capture and imprisonment, whereupon the New York Times ran his status as POW on the front page. Altogether, he was to be held as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for five and a half years. Upon his release and return to the United States, he was a celebrity, with his meeting with President Nixon while McCain was still on crutches making a stirring photograph. In 1977, McCain became the Navy's liaison to the U.S. Senate, in a move which he would later describe as the beginning of his second career as a politician. He retired from the Navy in 1981, having been promoted to Captain and having received a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, the Legion of Merit, the Purple Heart, and a Distinguished Flying Cross. He ran for the seat in Congress as a Republican in 1982. He was elected the president of the 1983 Republican freshman class of representatives, following a stirring speech which deeply impressed the media and the government. His assignment were to the Committee on Interior Affairs, the Select Committee on Aging, and the Republican Task Force on Indian Affairs. He then sought and won as the United States Senator from Arizona in 1987. He remains in this position today. John McCain ran for President in 2000, but lost to G.W. Bush. He praised and endorsed Bush in the 2004 campaign. He has now announced his second run for President in 2008. He is a hard-right Republican in terms of policy, and has gathered much support for what can only be described as a heroic record of service to the United States. He is popular with the kind of voter known as a "Reagan Democrat", and it is even said that, had it not been for George Bush, he would have won in 2000. Hillary Clinton -- Democrat Hillary Clinton was born as Hillary Rodham in October 26, 1947 in Chicago, Illinois. She graduated Maine South High School in 1965 and went on to attend Wellesley College, where she majored in Political Science, and graduated in 1969. Her next educational step was to attend Yale Law School, where she received a Juris Doctor of Law degree in 1973. During the time of her early life and education, it cannot be ignored that she was an activist and had political ambitions from the earliest age. She was a Brownie and Girl Scout, was on the student council at Maine East High School and was honored by the National Honor Society. She spent her teen years both helping to expose voter fraud in the election of President Richard Nixon and volunteered for the campaign effort of Barry Goldwater in the 1964 Presidential election. At Wellesley College she served as president of the Wellesley Young Republicans organization and then in her first bout of changing from Republican to Democrat, subsequently volunteering in the campaign of Democrat Eugene McCarthy for Presidential nomination. Along with her leadership in many protests and canvasing efforts, she was elected President of the Wellesley College Government Association. She interned at the House Republican Conference, and wound up her college years by deliver the commencement address for Wellesley College. At Yale Law School she served on the Board of Editors for the Yale Review of Law and Social Action, and later worked at the Yale Child Study Center. She also worked as a research assistant, performed legal duties in cases of child abuse at Yale-New Haven Hospital, volunteered at New Haven Legal Services, and worked at Marian Wright Edelman's Washington Research Project. Her work in the field of children's health during this time earned her publication in the 1973 edition of the Harvard Educational Review. Her post-grad work continued her record of activism for political and social causes, first as staff attorney for the Children's Defense Fund in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and then as a consultant to the Carnegie Council on Children. She then served as a member of the impeachment inquiry staff which advised the House Committee on the Judiciary during the scandal at the end of Richard Nixon's Presidency. Shortly afterwards, she made the fateful decision to suppress her own ambitions in favor of getting married to another person with an active career in law and politics, in the process taking on the last name of Clinton and moving to Arkansas in 1974. However, she still remained active in society and politics, and maintained a law career. She co-founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, was appointed to the board of directors of the Legal Services Corporation and served in that capacity for four years, and through her husband's election became First Lady of Arkansas in 1979. She was to continue in this capacity for 12 years, with a brief 2-year hiatus. Despite her decision to become a mother, she continued to pursue an active career of political, social, legal, and even corporate work. During both her position of First Lady of Arkansas and later as First Lady of the United States during her husband's eight years as President, her numerous achievements included chairing the American Bar Association's Commission on Professional Women, serving on the boards of the Arkansas Children's Hospital Legal Services, chairing the Children's Defense Fund, holding positions on the corporate board of directors for the corporations TCBY, Wal-Mart, and Lafarge. Her career at times has been said to overshadow that of her husband. While her husband endured storms of controversy but overall persevered in his eight years as President with some substantial accomplishments of his own, Hillary Clinton chaired the Task Force on National Health Care Reform, was instrumental in the formation of the State Children's Health Insurance Program of 1997, helped create the Office on Violence Against Women, created the Adoption and Safe Families Act, and did a staggering amount of lobbying for health care, childhood, and family issues. Hillary Clinton's name has become synonymous with hard-left social activism, as well as being a firebrand advocate for families and children. Not the least of reasons for this is her New York Times bestseller, "It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us", published in 1996. She currently serves as the Senator for New York since 2000, a career which so far has been too brief to distinguish. Her activities as First Lady have earned her a place of respect next to Eleanor Roosevelt in history. For her Presidential campaign, which she announced in January of 2007, she is looking forward to a tough bout in breaking the "glass ceiling" typically symptomatic of female professionals. However, she can count on a strong support base of women, minorities, and Democrats. Amongst the more liberal Democrats, she is sometimes even referred to as "the Clinton we should have had". Ralph Nader -- Green While Ralph Nader is not currently running at the time of this writing, there is an active and vocal draft movement to convince him to run for the Green party in the Presidential election for 2008. The site "draftnader.org" sports a petition signed with over 1000 signatures, so he's worth including "just in case". He's nothing if not full of surprises. Ralph Nader was born February 27, 1934 in Winsted, Connecticut. Both of his parents were immigrants from Egypt and Lebanon. He graduated from Princeton University in 1955 with a B.A. in government and economics and Harvard Law School in 1958. He joined the United States Army in 1959, but served less than a year before his discharge. He then began work as a lawyer until 1961, when he became a Professor of History and Government at the University of Hartford until 1964. He then relocated to Washington D.C., and took up a position on the staff of Assistant Secretary of Labor Daniel Patrick Moynihan. He also counseled the United States Senate subcommittee on car safety, and was also a faculty member at The American University Washington College of Law. He has continued to practice law throughout his career, but only in between his other accomplishments. Through the years and throughout his career, Ralph Nader has been an outspoken activist for consumer rights, the environment, and civic government. He has based much of his career on criticizing big corporations, which have largely taken over control of the United States at the detriment of its citizens. He is the founder of many organizations both in the government and in the private sector whose purpose serves to protect private citizens from the greed and misanthropy of large corporations, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Public Citizen, and several public interest research groups. He has also founded a huge number of non-profit activist and watchdog groups. He has run for President four times, in 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004. He has never held a public office. However, he has created several regulatory government agencies, most particularly the EPA and OSHA. Virtually every industry from airlines to fast food has changed its practices or added safety features as a result of his work. Not surprisingly, he has had clashes, run-ins, and struggles with multinational corporations who wanted to silence him. The most famous of these incidents happened after he published his study of car safety, which he gave General Motors failing marks for. General Motors, Inc., responded by numerous tactics to discredit him, spy on him, and even "hiring prostitutes to trap him in compromising situations". These activities were later the subject of a lawsuit by Nader against General Motors, which he won and received a public apology and a six-figure cash settlement. Ralph Nader has so far authored, co-authored, or edited 31 books on the topics of consumer safety, consumer rights, and how society is abused by corporate interests. His published bibliography includes a list which would fill this article, but some of his more famous and signatory books are "Unsafe at Any Speed", "Corporate Power in America", "Who's Poisoning America", "No Contest: Corporate Lawyers and the Perversion of Justice in America", and "Why Women Pay More". He has also appeared in several documentaries, and is fluent in English, Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Spanish, and Portuguese. The current effort to draft Ralph Nader is an expression of his huge fan following. At times, his previous nominations have been what are called "protest candidacies". So far, the closest thing he has made to accepting the nomination is that he has stated that he might run if Hillary Rodham Clinton receives the Democratic nomination. Since Clinton is indeed the front-runner in the Democratic race, that seems like a very good possibility. Surprisingly enough, Ralph Nader has shown many signs that he might make a good President, despite not having held public office. He has continuously acted in the best conscience and public interest, he has set up and run many organizations, has gotten things done to improve the quality of life in America well beyond the capacity of many Governors and Congressmen, and has vast knowledge in many subjects which would qualify him to handle almost any problem that came up. Al Gore -- Democrat While Al Gore is not currently in the race for the Presidency in 2008, there is an active and vocal draft movement to convince him to run. The speculation is that he's waiting to see how Hillary Clinton's campaign does, and if it looks like it's wavering and he could do better, he can then enter. Late entry won't hurt a high-profile candidate like Al Gore; he's had 8 years as Vice President and a second career as an environmental activist, even producing his own movie about global warming, so he's so much in the spotlight that he can hop in at any point and not be behind. there's also some talk that he might become a Green party candidate; certainly his ideas fit nicely with the party's. Hence, he's worth including. Al Gore was born March 31, 1948 in Washington, D.C. He was likely to aim for politics since birth, having been the son of Albert Arnold Gore, Sr., the Representative and Senator from Tennessee, and a mother who was one of the first women to graduate from Vanderbilt University Law School. Growing up, he would spend most of the year in Washington with his parents, and every summer would return to Tennessee to work on the family farm growing hay and tobacco and raising cattle. He graduated from St. Albans School and went on to attend Harvard College. He graduated Harvard with a Bachelor of Arts degree in government in 1969. The same year he graduated, he enlisted in the United States Army. Even though he opposed the Vietnam war at the time, he felt that it was his duty to serve in the military nonetheless. Although his tour looked to be off to a cushy start with his assignment as a military journalist writing for "The Army Flier", he was eventually shipped to the front lines in 1971. After just five months, he received a non-essential personnel honorable discharge due to his unit standing down, and returned to his studies, this time to Vanderbilt University for one year to finish out the terms of a scholarship. He then spent five years as a reporter for "The Tennessean", engaging in a little investigative reporting which led to the arrest of some corrupt local councilmen. Al Gore's first entry into politics came when Congressman Joe L. Evins retired from Tennessee's 4th district, leaving an open seat which he ran for. He was elected to this position, and won re-elections for Tennessee Representative 1978, 1980, and 1982. During his time in Congress, he served on the committees for Armed Services, Commerce, Science and Transportation, Joint Committee on Printing, Joint Economic Committee, and Rules and Administration. He also chaired the committees on Surface Transportation and the National Ocean Policy Study. His most prominent act was when he introduced the Gore Bill, also known as the High Performance Computing and Communication Act of 1991. This was the critical turning point of technology legislation; it bridged the way from the Federal ARPANET to the modern Internet and eventually the World Wide Web. However, this is the bill which political commentators have since never ceased to jeeringly refer to as "when Al Gore created the Internet". In a very real sense, this legislation actually did establish the modern web technology as we know it. It led to the development of the National Information Infrastructure, the creation of the high-speed fiber optic network which we have installed today, and gave us the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, which hired the programmers to develop the Mosaic project, headed by Netscape founder Marc Andreessen. Since Netscape's Mosaic spun off the Spyglass browser to sell to Microsoft, which it then developed into Internet Explorer, and Netscape also released Netscape Navigator, which went open source and became Mozilla which then in turn released Firefox and Thunderbird, and also since Netscape went on to become AOL, the America On-Line company, this act is in fact directly responsible for 99% of the programs we use to browse the web today. The Gore Bill, in a single act of legislation, gave us the wire in the ground, the network to run on that wire, and the software to use the network. If that isn't "taking the initiative in creating the Internet", then nobody can lay claim to doing better. In 1984, the Tennessee Senate seat became vacant when Republican Majority Leader Howard Baker stepped down. Gore ran for and was elected to this office as well, and was to remain there until becoming the Vice President in 1993. During his time as Senator, Gore twice attempted to get the U.S. government to pull the plug on support to Saddam Hussein, citing Hussein's use of poison gas, support of terrorism, and his burgeoning nuclear program, but was opposed both times by the Reagan and Bush administrations. The fact that he was to later see the developments of the Iraq war unfold under his protest must have been traumatic. Be that as it may, he of course went on to serve as Vice President under the Clinton administration for eight years. He has since run for and been defeated for President in 2000, and has since been an activist for environmentalist causes. Regardless of whether he answers the draft for 2008 or sits it out a bit longer, American politics has not heard the last of Al Gore. Duncan Hunter -- Republican Duncan Hunter was born May 31, 1948 in Riverside, California. He graduated from Rubidoux High School in 1966. He first attended the University of Montana for a year, then transferred to the University of California at Santa Barbara, before enlisting in the United States Army in 1969. This would lead him to serve in the Vietnam War until 1971. In the military, he took part in 24 helicopter assaults, held the rank of First Lieutenant, and was awarded with the Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal, and Vietnam Service Medal. Through this military service, he was later able to utilize the G. I. bill to attend the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, from which he earned a Bachelor of Science in Law and his Juris Doctor in 1976. He was admitted to the State Bar of California that same year, and opened his own storefront legal service, from which he supplied low-cost and even pro bono work for the Hispanic community. His entry into politics was when he was recruited to run for a seat in California's 52nd congressional district of the House of Representatives. He was elected to this position in 1980. Even though running as a Republican, he gained phenomenal support from a Democratic base and won favor with both the Hispanic and Caucasian communities in his district ever since. He has remained in his Congressional seat, and has only recently announced that he will not seek the office further in 2007. Duncan Hunter has served as the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee since 2002. From there, he has made some micromanaging decisions regarding women in the military and intelligence funding, as well as military spending. He has stated that in his view, our government's "highest obligation is owed to our forces in uniform, especially during this time of war.", and has been critical of colleagues and measures which fall short of this mark. He has also been an outspoken advocate of aerospace defense funding, calling on the Department of Defense to expedite actions to test and adopt new defensive weapons. In 2005, he introduced the Right to Life Act, a move against abortion rights. He introduced the Parents Empowerment Act in 2004, which would empower parents and guardians to sue any individual who exposes their charge to pornography. He also mandated more border security fencing between San Diego County and Tijuana; this legislation was later included with the Secure Fence Act. He has actively opposed international trade agreements such as NAFTA, CAFTA and the WTO. He has also created the Peace Through Strength political action committee, which advocates that international peace is only possible through military strength, much similar to how foreign policy was under the Cold War. In 2006, Duncan Hunter announced his candidacy to run for the office of United States President in 2008. His campaign has gotten off to a rather ragged run, however, but there may be a second possible office in his future, as another candidate, Mike Huckabee, has mentioned that Hunter would be good to fill in a position as Secretary of Defense in his cabinet. Duncan Hunter is a political curiosity. While remaining a very central Conservative Republican, he has consistently kept in touch with a Democratic voting base in his district and has won support from both sides of the party fence in ways that almost cannot be explained. Part of it may be his working-class roots and his military service. He can count on the votes from the military and defense contract base, as well as the wealthy industries around the perimeter of the military. Bill Richardson -- Democrat Bill Richardson was born November 15, 1947, in Pasadena, California. He was raised in Mexico City (his mother was from there) until age 13, then attended a Boston-area preparatory school. In high school at Middlesex School in Concord, he joined the baseball team and was the pitcher. Embracing the dream of a professional baseball career, he went on to play at Tufts University. However, his arm developed trouble, ending his baseball career. At the University, he majored in French and political science, and went on to earn a master's degree from Tufts' Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He entered politics immediately after college. Starting out as an assistant to Congressman Bradford Morse from Massachusetts, he moved on to the staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. During the Nixon administration, he worked for the Henry Kissinger State Department. Moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico, he was elected to the House of Representatives as New Mexico's 3rd district Representative in 1982. He was to stay on in this position until 1997. During this time, he was very active in foreign interests, visiting Nicaragua, Guatemala, Cuba, Peru, India, North Korea, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Sudan. He also chaired the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Native American Affairs in 1993, where he sponsored bills including the Indian Tribal Justice Act, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act Amendments, the American Indian Trust Fund Management Reform Act, the American Indian Agricultural Resource Management Act, the Indian Dams Safety Act, the Tribal Self-Governance Act, the Indian Tribal Jurisdiction Bill, and the Jicarilla Apache Tribe Water Rights Settlement Act. In 1997, then-President Bill Clinton appointed him to be U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. He represented the United States in various UN proceedings regarding Palestinian and Israeli interests. In 1998, he was re-appointed as the U.S. Secretary of Energy, which he held for the remainder of Bill Clinton's term. In 1998, he created the Director for Native American Affairs position and oversaw many sweeping policy changes with American Natives. He temporarily left politics by stepping down from this position in 2001. Bill Richardson then worked a series of positions in the private sector, amongst them adjunct professor at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and a lecturer at the Armand Hammer United World College of the American West. He was also on the board of directors for companies in the energy field, including Valero Energy Corporation and Diamond Offshore Drilling. He was also awarded a United States Institute of Peace Senior Fellowship. After the brief time off from politics, he was elected governor of New Mexico in November 2002, surprisingly becoming that state's first Hispanic Governor. In this office, he made sweeping improvements to the fiscal system. He also started the policy to award $400,000 in life insurance coverage for New Mexico National Guardsmen who serve on active duty, a policy which was to be later taken up by 35 other states. He also worked to build up the state's infrastructure, in ways such as putting in a new rail line. In a good pitch for progressives, he has championed the cause of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transsexual rights , by adding "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to the official civil rights category of New Mexico. He also signed a bill to legalize marijuana for medical reasons, and responded to a question of whether this move would hurt his chances for the Presidency with the famous quote, "It doesn't matter, it was the right thing to do." And he is pro-choice. His accomplishments to stimulate the economy of New Mexico, including a plan to establish a space tourism industry, have been so successful that "Forbes" magazine rated Albuquerque, New Mexico the best city in the U.S. for business and careers, and the Cato Institute has given him credit as one of the most fiscally responsible Democratic governors in the nation. Bill Richardson has announced his candidacy for President in 2008. Out of all the Democratic and even Libertarian and Green candidates in 2008, he is the only possible candidate whom can be called "100% Liberal". In fact, he is shooting for the highest praise amongst Democrats, the "Progressive". It is hard to believe that Bill Richardson has not swept the Democratic vote already. He has proven himself in policies pertaining to economy, foreign relations, civil rights and liberties, racial relations, tribal relations, education, and fiscal policy. He is indeed an as-yet-undiscovered diamond to the Liberal Democrats, but time will tell if he did, indeed, damage his chances as President by "doing the right thing", that is, by being too Liberal to attract Conservative voters. Wayne Allyn Root -- Libertarian Wayne Allyn Root was born July 20, 1961, in Mount Vernon, New York. He graduated Valedictorian from high school, and attended Columbia University as a political science major, to eventually graduate in 1983. Other details are sketchy or not disclosed. He resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. His occupations and avocations are business mogul, television celebrity, TV producer, author, and professional sports handicapper. He is founder and chairman of Winning Edge International Inc., a publicly-traded company. Starting in the year 2000, he began producing an infomercial series, "Wayne Allyn Root's Winning Edge" on the Discovery Channel, focusing on the business of sports handicapping. He is an entrepreneur, citing his business success as "living proof that the American Dream is alive and well". His childhood ambition was to be this generation's Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder, Mr. Snyder having been the sports handicapper who predicted football winners for CBS television during the 70's and 80's. By age 27, he was a fixture of CNBC's Financial News Network, being one of the youngest anchormen to do so. His television production company is named "Cool Hand ROOT". Along with producing "Wayne Allyn Root's Winning Edge", he has also created, produced, and co-hosted the prime-time TV series "King of Vegas" on the SpikeTV channel. "King of Vegas" is a reality show in which contestants compete in gambling games; completing the series wins the title. He has his own testimonial star in the "Las Vegas Walk of Stars" in front of the New York New York Hotel Casino on Las Vegas Blvd. He has also written three books, "Root on Risk: Betting to Win on Sports", "The Zen of Gambling" and "The King of Vegas' Guide to Gambling- How to Win Big at Poker, Casino Gambling & Life". He has also made many television appearances, being a guest on shows such as "CNN's Crossfire", "Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher", "NBC's Today show", "Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor", "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren", and many others. He is frequently cited as a gambling and odds expert. His platform is that he supports smaller government, reduced spending, reduced entitlements, reduced bureaucracy, dramatically lower taxes and more freedom for the individual. For education, he says that he would like to support more parental control, more emphasis on school choice, and increased competition through vouchers. He also supports gun rights for the individual. He describes himself as a fiscal conservative in the mode of Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater. He is, however, socially Liberal, believing that most social issues should be determined on the state and local level. He emphasizes that he is not one of the power-elite who seem to currently be in charge of the country. He promises to lead America back to prosperity by restoring fiscal discipline, personal responsibility, rugged individualism, and individual rights and freedoms. He describes himself as a "Libertarian Republican", although he is running on the Libertarian ticket. He has announced his candidacy for President of the United States for 2008. He has never held public office. However, he stands well on his success and fame as an indicator that what he could do for his business, he could do for the country. He is optimistic about his chances, citing many times that he happened to go to school with Barack Obama and that he is from the Ivy League. Dennis Kucinich -- Democrat Dennis Kucinich was born October 8, 1946, in Cleveland, Ohio. He attended Cleveland State University up until 1970, when he switched to Case Western Reserve University. He graduated in 1973 with both a BA and an MA in speech and communication. While still in University, his political ambitions asserted themselves at an incredibly early age, and he got elected to the Cleveland City Council in the year 1969, at the age of just 23. He next sought to be elected into the United States House of Representatives several times, but missed. Instead, Kucinich became clerk of the municipal court in Cleveland in 1975. Just two years later, he managed to run for and win the office of Mayor of Cleveland. He served in this position until 1979, a term which was marked by a struggle against corruption and an organized crime group who were putting pressure on him to sell the local utility. He stood up to them and even survived a plot to assassinate him, almost by luck. For this, he was honored by the city council many years later. However, he failed to win re-election to the office of Mayor. Remarkable for a Presidential candidate, Dennis Kucinich next turned away from politics and worked ordinary, menial jobs in the private sector. In 1983, almost by chance, he did take up politics again by filling a city council seat to replace another deceased councilman. After leaving this position, he again left the political sphere. He basically dropped out of politics and lived quietly as a regular citizen until 1994. In 1994, he was elected to the office of the Ohio State Senate, where he served for two years. After this, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in the 10th District of Ohio in 1996. He has served in this position until the present time, through five consecutive terms. His district includes his home town of Cleveland, as well as several other districts. His work as a Representative has been active. He helped introduce the United States National Health Insurance Act of 2003. He has taken exception to the Patriot Act, the flag-burning amendment, and has spoken out against improper voting machine design regarding Diebold Election Systems, particularly regarding the alleged fraud in which President Bush was supposed to have rigged the voting. Dennis Kucinich has also been outspoken in criticizing the Iraq war, he has called for nuclear disarmament, and he has said that the United States should withdraw from the NAFTA treaty. He has been fiery on U.S. foreign and war policy in general; for example, he explained his vote against the symbolic "9/11 Commemoration" by stating that it left out "the lies that took us into Iraq, the lies that keep us there, the lies that are being used to set the stage for war against Iran and the lies that have undermined our basic civil liberties here at home." He made a run for President in 2004. Although he won ringing endorsements from many Democratic and Green party members, including Ralph Nader, he eventually lost the Democratic race to the more popular Dean and Kerry. As of December 2006, he has announced his seeking of the office of President for the 2008 race, doing so from his home town of Cleveland. Dennis Kucinich is mostly classifiable as a medium-left Democrat. However, he does not necessarily let this stop him from voting across party lines when the issue at hand is something that he has a firm opinion about. He has changed his stance from anti-choice to pro-choice regarding a woman's right to an abortion. He did meekly go along with the war drum on Iraq in the early days of the Bush administration, before backing up and out of the support for the war and has since loudly protested the situation in the Middle East. He has even gone so far as to make public visits to Middle Eastern countries, making speeches and appearances in which he denounced what the United States is doing over there. Fred Thompson -- Republican Fred Thompson was born August 19, 1942 in Sheffield, Alabama. He graduated from Lawrence County High School in Tennessee, and worked days at a post office and nights at a bicycle plant. He enrolled in the University of North Alabama, being the first person in his family to attend college. He later transferred to the University of Memphis, where he held a double-major in both philosophy and political science. On a scholarship offer, he went on to Vanderbilt law school and earned a Juris Doctor of law in 1967, being admitted to the State Bar of Tennessee in that same year. He started his law career as a prosecuting U.S. Attorney, working criminal cases. During this time, he was the campaign manager for Senator Howard Baker's 1972 reelection campaign. He also served as the minority counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee. Continuing in the 1980's, he set up law offices in both Nashville and Washington, DC., and was appointed to Special Counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Special Counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Member of the Appellate Court Nominating Commission for the State of Tennessee. He served a pivotal role on the Watergate Committee, having been the author of the most famous question of the Watergate scandal, "What did the President know and when did he know it?", which he supplied to Senator Howard Baker, for whom he was acting as counsel. Senator Baker said of Thompson that he "had high regard for him as a lawyer and as a friend.". Fred Thompson is also an actor, and, unusual for the course, he was a politician before he became an actor. He is a character actor who usually draws bit roles; being 6 feet 5 inches tall, and looking the part of authority, he is usually cast as an authority figure. Some of his major movie appearances include "In the Line of Fire", "Thunderheart", "Cape Fear", "Necessary Roughness", "Class Action", "Die Hard 2", and "The Hunt for Red October". He has also appeared in television programs including "Matlock", "Roseanne", "Wiseguy", and "Law & Order". Sometimes his appearance is limited to a few frames of uncredited footage, for instance when a plot calls for a politician to appear on TV, as was the case in an episode of HBO's "Sex and the City". In 1994, he was elected to the United States Senate as the Senator from Tennessee. He was placed in this position to replace Al Gore, who had been elected Vice President. He served two terms in this seat until 2003. During his time in this office, he was a member of the Committee on Governmental Affairs, briefly served as a committee chairman, and also served on the Finance Committee, the Intelligence Committee, and the National Security Working Group. In the 2000 Presidential election, he was appointed as John McCain's national co-chairman. Leaving the Senate in 2003, he entered a period of free-floating odd-jobs, taking a bit role in a movie there and doing a public service announcement spot here. He did the voice-over work for the 2004 Republican National Convention. He assisted the nomination of Chief Justice John Roberts through the confirmation process of the United States Senate. And he was Chair of the International Security Advisory Board, assisting in matters pertaining to international policy and diplomacy. As of March 2007, Fred Thompson has announced his candidacy to be President of the United States. Being a part-time actor, he has not been camera-shy, appearing on "Fox News Sunday", "The Tonight Show", amongst many appearances. Fred Thompson is seen as a highly moderate Republican, in some cases leaning contrary to the party stance by being pro-choice and coming out in favor of allowing gay marriage. He will most likely appeal to the "armchair Republican", who toes most of the middle ground for general Conservative issues without alienating either side. To his credit is also the fact that, as an actor and media personality, he has charisma to spare. Mike Gravel -- Democrat Mike Gravel was born May 13, 1930 in Springfield, Massachusetts. Although he came from a working-class neighborhood, he was able to attend Assumption College Preparatory School, and put in one year at American International College in Springfield, Massachusetts, before leaving in 1951 to enlist in the U.S. Army. There, he served as a Special Adjutant in the Communication and Intelligent Services, then as a Special Agent in the Counter Intelligence Corps. he advanced to First Lieutenant in 1954. After his Army career, he attended Columbia University in New York City, where he studied economics and received a Bachelor of Science in 1956. Turning at this point to his dreams of far-away places and adventure, he moved to Alaska. there he worked a series of odd jobs until eventually running for the Alaska House of Representatives in 1962. He won this election, and started his political career as the representative for Anchorage. He carried on here for two terms from 1962 to 1966, serving as Speaker of the House during this time. He declined re-election to this post in favor of running for the U.S. Senate, a post he successfully won in 1968 to become the Senator from Alaska. As a Senator, he chaired the Energy, Water Resources, and Environmental Pollution subcommittees, and served on the Environment and Public Works Committee as well as the Finance and Interior Committees. Throughout his term, he was known to oppose nuclear testing and policies in favor of atomic energy. In 1971, Mike Gravel played a pivotal role in getting the famous Pentagon Papers released. These details of the Vietnam war and U.S. policy concerning same were released to public scrutiny largely under his stewardship. He also crusaded against the legislation renewing the military draft during the Nixon administration. In 1973, he was again the driving force behind the construction of the Alaska pipeline, currently providing 20% of United States oil. Over the years he also oversaw much legislation that had to do with the health and well-being of his adopted state of Alaska. One of these maneuvers was the defeat of a bill that would essentially have sold most of Alaska's uninhabited land to the Federal government. In blocking the passage of this bill, he would earn an enemy in Senator Ted Stevens -- the same Senator made famous when he dismissed the Internet as a "series of tubes clogged with information". A later bill to take over Alaska while reserving a paltry few acres for National parks went through, over Mike Gravel's protests. In 1972, he made a brief run for Vice President in the Democrat party, and while garnering a sizable amount of support failed to get the nomination. He then won re-election to the Senate in 1974 for a large percentage, but lost re-election in 1980 and had to leave political office. Discouraged from this defeat, he temporarily left politics for nearly nine years while he practiced business in the private sector. In 1989, he formed the Direct Democracy Foundation -- an organization to advocate the shutting down of big government and transferring more control to the individual citizen. He has continued to spearhead the campaign to revolutionize United States political fixtures, with some modest cheers from his supporters. He announced his candidacy for United States President in April, 2006. Taking advantage of his seniority and experience in working his way up in government, he has encouraged voters to think of him as "grandpa Mike". Mike Gravel is seen mainly as a hard-left Independent party member occupying the fringes of the Democratic Liberal party. His continued stumping for Direct Democracy has put out a call to radically overhaul the United States government. He has argued for the increase of liberty in many dimensions, such as abolishing drug laws, eliminating tax loopholes for the rich, being pro-choice, regulating big corporations, abolition of the ban on gay marriage, creating a direct citizen-controlled non-profit health care system, and many more radical -- but refreshing -- proposals. Mike Gravel appeals mainly to the Liberal-Democrat who borders on the Populist belief system. He is indeed very "old-school" Democrat, and through his working-class background is able to connect well with the low and middle class voter, especially any minority group.
Alan Keyes -- Republican Alan Keyes was born August 7, 1950, in a naval hospital in Long Island, New York. Being the son of a U.S. Army sergeant, he spent much of his childhood traveling from place to place including Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Virginia and Italy. After having graduated high school, he attended Cornell University where he studied political philosophy under the influential Allan Bloom, whom he identifies as a major mentor. He then left to participate in a foreign exchange study program, where he spent a year in Paris, France. Returning to America, he renewed his studies at Harvard University, where he completed his B.A. degree in government affairs by 1972. As he was completing his doctoral studies, he joined the United States Department of State, acting as an assistant to UN Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick. He was assigned to the consulate in Mumbai, India, in 1979, and stayed a year before moving on to work at the embassy in Zimbabwe. By 1981, he was a member of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff in Washington, DC. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan appointed Keyes to the United Nations as a fully-ranked ambassador. He stayed in this position four years until he was appointed Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations, and served jointly on the staff of the National Security Council, until 1987. During this time, he was a staunch supporter of Ronald Reagan and Conservative politics, and was a highly-favored staff member to Ronald reagan, who was fond of deploying him on errands. In 1988, he was drafted by the Maryland Republican Party to run for the United States Senate. At the fundraiser for this Senate campaign, President Reagan gave a speech praising Keyes for the fine job he'd done, and calling him a "stout-hearted defender of a strong America". Despite glowing praise from a popular Republican President, he failed to defeat the incumbent Paul Sarbanes for the Senate seat. He ran again four years later for the U.S. Senator from Maryland, and again was defeated by a Democrat, this time Barbara Mikulski. Raising his sights in 1996, he ran for the Republican nomination for the Presidential election. However, he only drew 3% of the vote in the primaries, coming in fifth behind Lamar Alexander, Steve Forbes, Pat Buchanan, and Bob Dole. Again in 2000, he sought the Republican nomination for President. Here his run was a bit more polished. He drew 14% of the vote, finishing third, and stayed on to debate with both George Bush and John McCain, in which he showed favorable poll results. However, he did not move up any further in the 2000 Presidential election. Alan Keyes has contributed to some interesting incidents in his years of political involvement. A staunch Republican who is as anti-civil-liberty as just about any candidate can get, he rubbed a few of the people he met the wrong way in his days as an ambassador. During his first Presidential run in 1996, there was an incident where he allegedly tried to force his way into a debate to which he was not invited, and was briefly detained by Atlanta police. During the 2000 campaign, Keyes jumped into a mosh pit of youths body-surfing to music at a nightclub, apparently at the behest of Michael Moore, host of the "The Awful Truth" TV show, and his daughter. Finally, there was some controversy over the fact that he had thrown his daughter out and disowned her, upon learning that she was a lesbian. Alan Keyes has been drafted by a grass-roots movement and has joined the race for the 2008 United States Presidential Election. As is usual for a draft pick, he has been very late in joining the race. He did just make it into the Republican presidential debate in Iowa on December 12, 2007, but is not expected to have made much progress in winning the vote. Alan Keyes is running with a slogan "renew America". In a nutshell, he is anti-choice, anti-civil-rights, pro-corporation, pro-death-penalty, pro-drug-prohibition, pro-school-prayer, pro-school-voucher, anti-Kyoto, anti-environmental-regulation, pro-religion, pro-war, anti-free-trade, anti-gun-control, anti-euthanasia, pro-PATRIOT-act, anti-immigration, anti-gay, anti-income-tax, anti-technology, anti-welfare. Other positions and views may be extrapolated from this highly generalized paragraph. Christopher Dodd -- Democrat Christopher Dodd was born May 27, 1944, in Willimantic, Connecticut. He graduated Georgetown Preparatory School in Bethesda, Maryland, and from Providence College with a bachelor's degree in English Literature in 1966. Following this, he served two years in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic. He then served in the U.S. Army Reserve until 1975. During his service, he also earned a Juris Doctor degree at the University of Louisville. In 1973, he was admitted to the Connecticut bar, and became a practicing lawyer. His career turned to politics when he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1975, and he served as Connecticut's second congressional district Representative until 1981, being re-elected twice in the process. Christopher Dodd was one of the group which the media referred to as "Watergate Babies"; Democratic Senators and Representatives who were voted in in the post-Watergate aftermath of Nixon's impeachment. Amongst his accomplishments in the House, he served on the House Select Committee on Assassinations. Christopher Dodd was then elected from the House to the Senate in 1980 as the Senator from Connecticut, which made him the youngest ever Connecticut Senator. He was subsequently re-elected in 1986, 1992, 1998, and 2004, making him the first Connecticut Senator to serve five consecutive terms. He was also nominated to be the Senate Minority Leader in the 109th session of Congress, but declined the position and has also announced that he will not seek a sixth term as Senator. The reason for turning down these opportunities became clear when he announced his run for the Presidency in January of 2007. During his time as Senator, Christopher Dodd has chaired the Committee on Rules and Administration and the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. He also served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 1994. He has also maintained an active link to the Peace Corps, and has lent his support to the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, the No Child Left Behind bill, and the national Head Start program. He received the Edmund S. Muskie Distinguished Public Service Award for his foreign affairs work. During his Senate career, he has also spoken out from time to time on various issues. These include the need to investigate civil-rights violations, the future of the Peace Corps, concern over torture, war crimes, and terrorism. Like many contenders for the Presidency in 2008, he opposes the Iraq war. Christopher Dodd has formed a position as a highly moderate Democrat. While he has put in the expected performance of a political career, he has done little to attract sharp attention to himself and has not gone out of his way to attach himself to any particular issue nor has he done anything too controversial. He might be seen as a modern-day Calvin Coolidge, being somewhat taciturn. When interviewed about his consideration of running for President, he responded "It's an itch. Could grow. Could disappear." His pace is described as "carefully measured". In spite of this, he has been a frequent fixture on television shows. Since 2000, he has appeared on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien", "The Daily Show", "Face the Nation", "Hardball with Chris Matthews", "Larry King Live", "The Al Franken Show", "Meet the Press", "NBC Nightly News", "The Colbert Report", and several other news shows. he has received endorsements from the Kennedy family and the International Association of Fire Fighters. Christopher Dodd has in fact admitted that he has allowed his bid for President to lapse behind the front-runners, but expressed some optimism that he will draw support anyway due his stance on issues. Mike Huckabee -- Republican Mike Huckabee was born August 24, 1955 in the city of Hope, Arkansas. He began working in his early childhood, by reading the news and weather at a local radio station when he was 14. He attended Hope High School and went on to Ouachita Baptist University, where he completed a bachelor's degree, where he obtained a Doctor of Laws degree in 1992. He had a heavy religious influence throughout his life, and at the age of 23 he started working as a staffer for James Robison, the televangelist. Of him, his boss was to say that he was shaped by moral absolutes, with no gray in between black and white. Huckabee has himself stated that he believes it is impossible to separate religion from politics, so there's no point in trying. He has also stated that he believes in Biblical inerrancy, believing in the literal interpretation of Scripture, which he holds to be absolute truth. Before he started a political career, he was pastor of Southern Baptist churches in Arkadelphia, Texarkana, and Pine Bluff, Arkansas. In his first bid for the United States Senate, he lost to incumbent Dale Bumpers in 1992. However, in the next year, he managed to squeak into a seat as lieutenant governor following a hasty special election. In 1994, he was re-elected to a full term as lieutenant governor, where he served until 1996, when he became sworn in after yet another special election as Governor of Arkansas, replacing Jim Guy Tucker who was resigning due to a legal scandal. When Jim Guy Tucker stated that he might re-think his resignation almost at the zero hour when Huckabee was being sworn in, Huckabee retaliated with a threat to impeach Tucker if he didn't stay down. While in the office of Governor, he endured a stormy reign. He created a bill which used money from tobacco companies to combine with existing Medicare money to manage children's health. He was brought up on charges by the Arkansas Ethics Commission for failing to report campaign payments and for using a fund set up for the maintenance of the Governor's Mansion for his own personal use. He signed a 3-cent increase in tax on gasoline and a 4-cent increase on diesel into law, purportedly to devote the money to improving roads. He also implemented a school reform which he openly acknowledged was borrowed from the plans of then-Governor of Texas, George W. Bush. However, his rule has not been without its colorful moments. Ignoring for the most part the issues concerning the governance of his state, he took issues with professional sports, stating, "In almost four years as governor, no issue has excited Arkansans as much as the question of where the University of Arkansas should play its home football games." He also has a band, named "Capitol Offense", which plays at political events and balls. He also signed the controversial Covenant Marriage Act into law, making marriage even more a matter of political and religious interests intertwined than it was originally. When he was re-elected as Governor in 2002, he was seen as undermining the Democratic process for also having his wife, Janet, run for the office of Secretary of State. They campaigned for each other, shared contributions, and publicly endorsed each other. Mike Huckabee withstood the controversy to win a second term, while his wife Janet was not elected to her chosen office. His second term was even more on the edge of controversy. The Arkansas Supreme Court took him to task for failing to address the issue of having an unconstitutional state school funding procedure, and ordered him to fix it. When he failed to do so, the legislature was forced to take matters into their own hands and re-consolidated the school districts. He also a signed into effect a new 3% income tax surcharge, and had to settle in a lawsuit in which he acted with the Arkansas Educational Television Network to unfairly remove a television program from the broadcast schedule. In 2005, in perhaps his boldest move in defiance of public opinion, he refused to provide relief or support for the 70,000 refugees from Hurricane Katrina whom came to his state seeking aid, preferring instead to push the burden off onto State parks and local businesses instead. In spite of this move, he requested that the Federal Government declare the state of Arkansas a disaster area due to the influx of refugees seeking shelter, for which he was denied. As of January 2007, he has announced his candidacy for United States President. He can be seen as a candidate that will appeal to the far religious right interested in swaying the country towards a more theocratic society. He bases much of his platform on religious fundamentalism. Rudy Giuliani -- Republican Rudy Giuliani was born May 28, 1944, in the borough of Brooklyn, New York City. He is the second-generation descendant of Italian immigrants on both his parents' side. He attended Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School, graduating from there in 1961. He then went to Manhattan College in the Bronx, where he majored in political science with a minor in philosophy. He was elected president of his class in his sophomore year, then graduated in 1965. His final educational step was to attend the New York University School of Law in Manhattan, where he graduated cum laude with a Juris Doctor in 1968. Unusual for a politician of his standing, he started out as a Democrat and then switched parties later. Originally, he expressed admiration for the Kennedys, and volunteered for Robert F. Kennedy's presidential run in 1968. He also worked in a Democratic party committee in the 1960s. After his graduation, he took on a position as law clerk under Judge Lloyd MacMahon, United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York. A year later, he joined the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, where he was promoted to Chief of the Narcotics Unit and then United States Attorney. In 1975, he switched his party affiliation to Republican. In the midst of the Ford administration, he was recruited to Washington, where he assumed the office of Associate Deputy Attorney General and chief of staff to the Deputy Attorney General. In this position, he garnered some headlines when he prosecuted U.S. Representative Bertram L. Podell for corruption. He continued to practice law in sub-government positions through the late 70s and early 80s. One of the well-publicized cases he worked on was the situation with Haiti refugees and the famous "Baby Doc" Duvalier. Rudy Giuliani was appointed U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York in 1983. It was here that he found his greatest fame yet, both through prosecuting Wall Street criminals including Ivan Boesky and Michael Milken, and pursuing cases against drug dealers, organized crime, and government corruption. His most famous organized crime prosecution is the Mafia Commission Trial of 1985, in which he indicted the heads of the "Five Families" of organized crime in New York. He racked up an amazing record of 4,152 convictions in the space of just six years. As a prosecuting attorney, he made a name for himself with his tough stance and ruthless tactics. His next ambition was to be elected mayor. He made an unsuccessful run in 1989, spearheading a deeply bitter campaign against incumbent David Dinkins, whom he charged with being the person behind much corruption in New York. Defeated but, typical of Giuliani, not at all discouraged, he made another run in 1993. He won this race by a close margin and was elected into office, where he was to serve two terms as Mayor of New York City until 2001, leaving office at last because of term limits. In 1999, he expressed an interest in running for the United States Senate. He formed an exploratory committee to assess his chances for a Senate bid, however before entering the race he was forced to withdraw due to medical problems. However, his duties as Mayor of New York stretching into 2001 placed him in a high-profile position of city leader coping with the disastrous September 11th terrorist attack. He has since attracted much attention in the aftermath of the attacks. In the 2004 Presidential election, he publicly endorsed incumbent George Bush. In another unusual development for a high-profile political career, he did not consider running for President in 2008, until a groundswell draft movement began in 2005 to convince him to run. He was apparently convinced, and announced his candidacy on the TV program "Larry King Live" in 2007. Rudy Giuliani is seen as a moderate Republican, although with his past party switches he is sometimes said to be more Libertarian than anything else. His image is that of a tough, strong, resilient person who fights for a safer society. He has greatly capitalized on his position in the 9/11 disaster, citing his record of actions as an endorsement for his defense of American society. Cynthia McKinney -- Green Cynthia McKinney was born March 17, 1955, in Atlanta, Georgia. She was the daughter of Billy McKinney a former Georgia State Representative and one of Atlanta's first Black law enforcement officers. She earned a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Southern California, and a Masters of Art in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. She is a drafted nominee of the Green Party, which is probably best-known to Americans as the party of former Presidential candidate Ralph Nader, and indeed, she was slated for Vice President as Nader's running mate in 2000. Her career in politics had a very unique start, when in 1986, her father in the Georgia House of Representatives submitted her name as a write-in candidate for the Georgia State House. Despite the fact that she wasn't even living in the United States at the time, but in Jamaica, she got 40% of the popular vote anyway. This inspired her to run for the Georgia State House again in 1988, where she was present in the United States this time, and she was elected, making it the first time a father and daughter had served in the State House of Georgia at the same time. Her next move was to run for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992, and she was elected to represent the 11th District of Georgia, which covers the territory between Atlanta and Georgia. She was re-elected in 1994. In 1995, the districts were redrawn under her protest, citing racial motives, and she became the Representative of the 4th district instead. She was to be re-elected to this position in 1996, 1998 and 2000. She lost the 2002 election to DeKalb County Judge Denise Majette. She protested the results of the election, claiming that vengeful Republicans had rigged the election as retaliation for her anti-Bush administration views, her allegations of possible voter fraud in Florida in the 2000 Presidential Election, her controversial statements regarding Bush's involvement in 9/11, and her opposition to aid to Israel. Some voters lodged a formal suit on her behalf, supporting her claims, but the case was dismissed from lack of evidence. During her "exile" from office, she because an outspoken protester against the Bush administration, and the "white, rich Democratic boys club wanted her to stay on the back of the bus." Surprisingly after these bizarre events in 2002, she regained the position as the 4th district Representative again in 2004, but would lose it for the final time in 2006. During her second stay in office, she was one of the thirty-one members of Congress to make a formal protest over the alleged vote-rigging that kept incumbent George Bush in the Oval Office. In 2005, also in office, she held the most prominent briefing on Capitol Hill for the investigation into the events surrounding the 9/11 attacks. She also submitted the "MLK Records Act", which would release all records surrounding the assassination of Martin Luther King into the public record. These records are currently sealed as of 1978 and are not due to be declassified until 2028. A Senate version of the bill has been sponsored since by Senator John Kerry and Senator Hillary Clinton. Cynthia McKinney has spear-headed much of the protest against government corruption, incompetency, cover-up, and civil liberties violations. Her laundry list of injustices she wants to correct goes on and on, and extend to calling for Presidential impeachment. While there is some support for her claims, and indeed overwhelming evidence in many places, her manner of speaking out with much passion and anger has alienated those who would otherwise agree with her in some circles. She is highly confrontational. In any case, Cynthia McKinney has responded to the draft movement by announcing her candidacy for the Presidency, under the Green party. She speaks for many Americans who have lost faith and hope in their government, and she is neither the first nor the loudest to have pointed out how out-of-control the United States government appears and how it seems to be sinking into corruption. She can count on some support from both African-American and women voters, as well as the beleaguered Green party, and she just may unite the various groups which have never ceased to protest since the day Bush took office. Seeing as how Bush polls as one of the least popular Presidents ever, that could turn into a lot of votes. Tom Tancredo -- Republican Tom Tancredo was born December 20, 1945 in Denver, Colorado. He is a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado as of 1969, with a degree in political science, and became a history professor at Drake Junior High School in Denver, in 1976. Beginning a career in politics at an early age, he was already actively involved with conservative groups such as Young Americans for Freedom, and organized many vocal groups and political action committees criticizing government policy on issues regarding race, bilingual education, and immigration. He has stated that one of his chief concerns is "the struggle to preserve our national identity, against the tide of illegal immigrants flooding the United States." He won a seat in the Colorado House of Representatives in 1976, where he served two terms from 1977 to 1981, while retaining his position as a high-school history professor. Then in 1981, he was appointed by President Reagan to be the Department of Education regional representative for Denver. He remained at this position from 1981 until 1992, and then in 1993 became President of a conservative think tank called the Independence Institute and based in Golden, Colorado. He was to remain at this position until joining Congress. In 1999, he joined Congress in the United States House of Representatives, as the Representative of the 6th Congressional District of Colorado. While serving in this position, he has sponsored the Sudan Peace Act which became law in 2002, and introduced the Mass Immigration Reduction Act, repeatedly in 1999, 2001, and 2003, although so far it has not passed. An anti-choice candidate by nature, he voted in favor of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, and in favor of legislation requiring parental notification when a minor seeks an abortion. He has called for the repeal of Roe v. Wade. He has also founded the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus. Unusual for the second-generation descendant of Italian immigrants, he has been perhaps the most outstanding voice against conceding a single square foot of U.S. soil to anything but natural citizens who speak English. This has carried to the point where he came down heavily on the Denver Public Library merely for purchasing reading materials written in Spanish and supporting Spanish-speaking students. He has also criticized President George Bush because he feels his many measures to control immigration have not been enough, in part over concern about terrorists. He has described himself as being a person not wanted at the White House because of his hard-line beliefs. In 2004, he founded the Team America political action committee whose purpose was to donate to any congressional candidate who opposed immigration to the same degree he did, however due to campaign finance laws he had to disband the effort. According to one quote posted on the website of the home page of the U. S. Border Control organization, he is quoted as saying that immigrants "need to be found before it is too late. They're coming here to kill you, and you, and me, and my grandchildren." In 2005, Tancredo sponsored legislation to eliminate H-1B visas for temporary workers, stated that he opposed to amnesty for illegal aliens, worked to eliminate the automatic granting of citizenship to the babies of illegal aliens, and sponsored of a successful amendment to a Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill that would withhold federal emergency services funds from sanctuary cities. Tom Tancredo has announced his bid for the United States Presidential election as of 2005. His campaign is simply: "Secure the borders. Deport those who don't belong. Make sure they never come back.", with little to no focus on anything else. It is difficult to define what sort of voter base he would appeal to - certainly he is neo-Conservative, but he is so extreme as to carry himself past all hard-line right-wingers into fanatical Independent candidate territory. If there were such a thing as an "Archie Bunker party", he might find support with them. George Phillies -- Libertarian George Phillies was born 23 July 1947 in Buffalo, New York. Growing up in Kenmore and Williamsville, New York, he finished as salutatorian at the Williamsville Central High School. He went on to the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. There, he earned dual Bachelor of Science degrees in both Physics and Life Sciences, and also a Master of Science and Doctor of Science degrees in 1973. He then joined the staff at the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program, doing research. Interspersed with his academic activities, he joined the United States Army Reserves in 1971, where he achieved the rank of Specialist 5th Class. He took an honorable discharge in 1977. In 1975, he moved to California, where he began working as a postdoctoral fellow in the Chemistry department at UCLA. In 1978, he moved again to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he worked for seven years at the University of Michigan as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry. Relocating once again, he moved to the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and there he attained the rank of Professor of Physics. There, he has attained international fame for his research work in many aspects of physics, amongst them light scattering, soaps, and polymer solutions. He has been elected to several committees within the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where he has been hailed as the "conscience of the WPI Faculty". George Phillies began his political interests in 1994, by organizing efforts in Central and Western Massachusetts on behalf of the Libertarian Party. He was elected to Executive Director of the Massachusetts Libertarian Association in 1996, and was the party nominee for United States Senator from Massachusetts, however, he stood no chance of defeating incumbent (since 1962) Ted Kennedy. In 1998, he made a run for a seat in the House of Representatives as a Libertarian. While he pulled third place, it was noted by the news media that he did well in the debates. In 2004, he was elected as the Regular member of the Libertarian Party of Massachusetts State Committee, and was elected again in 2006 to the same committee, this time as Vice President. His other activities include editing two national Libertarian newletters, "Let Freedom Ring!" and "The Libertarian Strategy Gazette". He also chairs both the Pioneer Valley Libertarian Association and the Worcester County Libertarian Association, whose motto is "Domestic Spying, Rendition, Torture, Secret Prisons -- Is This Your America?". In addition, he has also written and published an e-book, titled "Stand Up For Liberty!", which is a manual for Libertarian strategy. It seems a shame that the Libertarian party has not won greater acceptance, because when it comes to the issues, George Phillies takes many of the same stands which voters are heard to bitterly complain are missing from the agendas of mainstream candidates. He opposes the war and wants the troops home, as the majority of candidates do. He is pro-civil-liberties, so supports gay marriage, rights to privacy, and contends that we should have a President, not an Emperor. He is in favor of moderate, but effective, tax cuts and spending cuts, without any radical schemes behind it. He is pro-education, supporting privatized schools, in a time when our country's public schools receive such a failing grade that it hardly seems worth the bother. He is pro-Second-Amendment, so the gun owners have something to like. He has ideas for fixing health care, immigration, and property rights, which should be favorable views with most Americans. And he's for ending prohibition -- not so popular with some, granted. But in this day when mere marijuana offenders, jailed just for possessing less than an ounce of the drug, make up the overwhelming majority of our prison population and are even forcing violent criminals back out into society to make room for more harmless marijuana users, one has to admit that there may be a point to this view. In 2006, George Phillies announced his candidacy for President of the United States for the 2008 election. Given the utter vacuum of attention that American society pays to the Libertarian party, there is a long struggle ahead. However, more and more every day, voters are expressing their contempt for the existing monoculture in American politics, and George Phillies represents the most serious candidate to get the Libertarian ball rolling. His stance on the issues provides an excellent opportunity to draw voters from both the Liberal and Conservative line. John Edwards -- Democrat John Edwards was born June 10, 1953, in Seneca, South Carolina. Being the first person in his family line to attend college, he first attended Clemson University and then transferred to North Carolina State University, where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in textile technology. This choice of avocation was due to his father's career at a textile mill. However, he changed his goals and went on to earn his law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1977. John Edwards' early legal career can be described as stunning, while his personal life can be described as a brave struggle in the face of tragedy. Having married early, he had four children, one of whom, Wade Edwards, was killed in an automobile accident at age 16 in 1996. This drove the couple to found the Wade Edwards Foundation, committed to "rewarding, encouraging, and inspiring young people in the pursuit of excellence". Only eight years after this, his wife was diagnosed with severe cancer in 2004, and the couple have continued to work together while she undergoes extensive treatment. His legal career has been marked by aggressive trial lawyer activity. His name has become synonymous with winning multi-million-dollar damage settlements. He won a $3.7 million for a client who was permanently brain-damaged by medical malpractice in 1984, a $6.5 million settlement for a child with cerebral palsy who was mistreated by doctors in 1985, and a total of $60 million for other clients. Having become nationally famous in medical malpractice litigation to the point of encouraging hospitals and doctors to change their policies, he then established his own firm in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1993. He would go on to further court victories from there, including the famous case seeking damages against the Sta-Rite pool supplies manufacturer for a child who was severely injured by a defective product. The settlement in this case was $25 million, the highest ever in North Carolina legal history. He is the author of two books: "Four Trials" in 2003 detailing his more notable legal experiences and "Home: The Blueprints of Our Lives" in 2006, a series of interviews with people talking about their childhood homes. He also co-edited another book, "Ending Poverty in America: How to Restore the American Dream", which laid the grounds for his view that there are "two Americas", with a vast gulf separating the wealthy from the poor. John Edwards was elected to be the Senator from North Carolina in 1998, where he was to serve one term before retiring from the Senate. During this term, he co-sponsored 203 bills. Among his actions are co-sponsoring the Iraq War Resolution, supporting and voting for the Patriot Act, sponsoring the Fragile X Research Breakthrough Act, and the Spyware Control and Privacy Protection Act. He served on the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the U.S. Senate Committee on Judiciary. He was also a member of the New Democrat Coalition, an organization within Congress who support moderate Democrat positions and pro-business stances. He left the Senate in 2004 to start his first run at Presidential election. He lost the primaries in 2004 to John Kerry, in a highly close race where the outcome was virtually a photo finish. In a display of uncommon grace on the part of both candidates, John Edwards became John Kerry's running mate, with Kerry for President and Edwards for Vice President, but only to lose. He has announced his second bid as a Presidential candidate once again as of 2006. His main goals are stated as eliminating poverty, fighting global warming, providing universal health care, and withdrawing troops from Iraq. John Edwards is seen as a fiery hard-left Democrat with a stellar rise to fame and a powerful connection with the lower and middle classes of America. He has consistently fought for the underdog, and his family roots as one of the "common people" together with his current status as an admitted millionaire give him a unique claim to insight into class divisions within the United States. He is both an accomplished public speaker, which stems from his experience convincing juries to find in favor of his clients, and an established literary talent, putting his education to good use. He also has the benefit of experience, having gone almost all the way in the previous Presidential election. His latest political move is to connect strongly with the victims of the Hurricane Katrina victims, having made several speeches on a tour of the area. His campaign slogan is "Tomorrow begins today." Barack Obama -- A Political Profile No one can deny that Barack Obama is a fresh breeze blowing though the political landscape. In a country where every President has been a Caucasian European, he is a mixed-race candidate. When most Presidents lately tend to be on the old side, he is young. He has an advantage of experience in foreign countries, a patch-work of cultures and places in his background. He can blend in anywhere, identify with anybody, and connect with both sides across almost any chasm. So what kind of President is he going to make? Upon being sworn into office as Illinois Senator in 2005, his first move was to recruit Pete Rouse as his Chief of Staff. Since Rouse was the former chief of staff to Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle, this was hailed as a smart move. He has sat so far on the Foreign Relations Committee, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and the Veterans' Affairs Committee, as well as being a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. He has been a very live wire in his position, having sponsored 152 bills and resolutions brought before Congress, and cosponsored another 427. He has been at the forefront of issues relating to border security and immigration reform. He has sponsored the "Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act", which was introduced by Senator John McCain, demonstrating that he can work across party lines. He also partnered with two Republican Senators, Richard Lugar and Tom Coburn, on two bills which bear his name today. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he has made official trips to Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Russia, the Ukraine, and Azerbaijan. He is extremely good at diplomacy. After meeting with U.S. military members in Kuwait and Iraq in January 2006, he also visited Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian territories. He has worked to encourage peace in the Middle East. He also made a special tour of South Africa, Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Chad, making speeches denouncing ethnic rivalries and corruption in Kenya. He has also made some bold steps for campaign finance reform, especially denouncing situations in which a public servant would feel indebted to a lobbyist. In these times of grave concern over the increasing control that big corporations and monopolies have over our government, voters respond well to this message. He worked with other Democratic Senators after this to tighten regulations on what public officials can do on the taxpayer's dollar, and passed a bill to criminalize deceptive practices in federal elections. He has also championed some environment and energy causes, passing a climate change bill to reduce greenhouse gasses, again with Senator John McCain, and promoting a bill for liquefied coal production. He has also introduced a bill, the "Iraq War De-Escalation Act," which proposes to cap troop levels in Iraq, begin phased redeployment, and remove all combat brigades from Iraq before April 2008. This is something he can point to, to say, "Look, all the candidates promise an end to the Iraq War, I actually did something about it." He has also introduced legislation to prevent nuclear terrorism, showing that he is still keeping national security in mind. Obama has perhaps shined best in being progressively pro-Internet. Now, when it comes to technology, the United States has moved forward while its government seems to be stuck in the Stone Age. Amidst paranoia about "hackers" used by officials who don't even show a clear understanding of the definition of the word, the complete inability to manage the monopoly behemoth that Microsoft has become, meaningless and destructive software patents that are rubber-stamped without even being read, and such ignorant statements as when United States Senator Ted Stevens dismissed the Internet as nothing but a "series of tubes", the voters who are technology professionals and avid Internet users have a very good reason to believe that they might be members of some foreign country. It is no exaggeration to say that trying to get government officials to understand computing is like trying to explain rocket science to a cave man. Enter stage left, Obama! He has met with executives at Google, has pledged to appoint a Chief Technology Officer to oversee the U.S. government's management of IT resources, has a commitment to net neutrality legislation, has said "once providers start to privilege some applications or web sites over others, then the smaller voices get squeezed out, and we all lose.", and to address the critical state of science education in America, he has put forward a plan for investments in early childhood education, math and science education, and expanded summer learning opportunities. There is no doubt that Obama has the technology vote locked up. Any candidate who can actually mouth the words "open document format" will make IT professionals everywhere swoon. And likewise, he has some support from the non-white voter, and has captured the attention of the young voters like no other. He is a fresh thinker for a new generation of voters. Whether that's enough to get elected remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that he is in touch with today's issues. Mike Huckabee -- A Political Profile Mike who? Most Americans hear "Huckabee" and think (a) it's a spin-off restaurant from the Applebee's chain, or (b) that Fox Searchlight movie from 2004 with Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin. But, no Mike Huckabee is a real candidate with real ambitions, and he has lately surged ahead in the polls, trouncing John McCain and giving Rudy Giuliani some serious heat, despite Huckabee's having raised only a paltry sum of campaign contributions so far. So what kind of President will he make? People who recall well the Clinton administration will recognize something special in Huckabee: he's got charisma to spare. While Clinton showed everybody how cool he was by playing the saxophone on The Arsenio Hall Show, earning criticism from the right wing that he was "the MTV President", Huckabee can rock out with a bass guitar with his band, "Capitol Offense". So who's the MTV candidate now? Huckabee also has the advantage of being an ordained Southern Baptist minister and a professional public speaker, so he can give a great speech and he won't need to rely on speech-writers and cue-cards. Huckabee spent his first term as Governor of Arkansas doing largely bread-and-butter civic functions. He attended to trivial matters like managing taxes and instituting a new school program and a health insurance plan. Nothing too radical or controversial here. He did run aground of some minor auditing from the Arkansas Ethics Commission over inappropriate use of funds and failing to report a minor contribution, but otherwise managed to stay level. His second term saw some more tax tweaking and another school improvement program. His most famous act of 2000 was to move into a trailer home on the grounds of the Arkansas Governor's Mansion while the mansion was being renovated. Although the trailer was barely roomy enough and was a humbling dwelling for a Governor and his family, the move saved the state a costly sum since they didn't have to relocate his entire staff, had he chosen fancier digs elsewhere in town. He was also was named ?Friend of a Taxpayer? by Americans for Tax Reform in 2001. One cannot escape the religious influence on the Governor. He has been the very model of a "Christian Conservative", moving to increase the sacredness of the marriage act by instituting covenant marriages, and proclaiming October "Student Religious Liberty Month" in an effort to encourage kids to pray in school. He has of course sided with pro-life issues, and has delivered impassioned speeches outlining why he felt pro-life is important. For being fiscally conservative, he has used tobacco companies as a cash cow, first funneling all funds from the state's tobacco settlement into the health care system, then increasing cigarette taxes later. He has raised taxes some, but overall has done the minimum necessary to balance the books. During his time in office, welfare rolls declined by nearly half while the state's economy grew at a rate faster than the national average. "Time" magazine named him one of the five best governors in the U.S. in 2005. He has found the media very easy to charm, having appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" to make the obligatory chin joke, appearing on "Meet the Press", and he has popped up on TV and print on a semi-regular basis. In his bid to lose weight at a time when his weight severely threatened his health, he ran in the 2005 Marine Corps Marathon, the Little Rock Marathon in 2005 and 2006, and the 2006 New York City Marathon. Not only did he finish these and successfully meet his target weight, but he wrote a book bearing testimony to the power of healthy weight management and won an award for his work as a "health crusader" from the American Association of Retired Persons. All has not been rosy in the Huckabee garden, however. There was a scandal involving a violent criminal whom Huckabee released, and said criminal went on to commit further crimes. Huckabee has also come under fire for his tax-and-spend record, from groups such as "Club for Growth". He earned an "F" from the Cato Institute for spending and taxing policy in 2006. It seems like they are a lot of feisty attack dogs nipping at his heels; other groups also criticized him for not raising taxes enough, and when he brought up the creative solution of a "tax me more" fund where people could voluntarily pay money to the state if they felt taxes weren't high enough, he was further criticized for making a "campaign move". Indeed, he has a bad habit of drawing fire for his off-the-cuff remarks. He tends to phrase things in religious terms a little more than is good for a politician. He has also written a book, "Kids Who Kill: Confronting Our Culture of Violence", in which he quite clearly demonizes homosexuality, environmentalism, sadomasochism, and other legal and victimless alternative lifestyle practices. Even his recent Christmas ad drew fire for having a very obvious and deliberate cross in the background. Huckabee has stated very firmly that he believes religion and politics cannot be separated at all, and he'd be the last one to try anyway. One thing for certain, we have Huckabee all out in the open. About the best way to sum up his likely popularity as President is to steal from Abe Lincoln: "people who like this sort of thing will find this to be the sort of thing they like." Hillary Clinton -- A Political Profile When we turn our eyes to Hillary Clinton, we see the exciting prospect of our first woman President. We see someone who has the upper hand, with a husband who served two terms in that office and knows how to win it. We see an established states-person, who has already been an activist for various causes, and is even known world-wide. But now we must ask ourselves, what kind of President is she going to make? In her first term as Senator, she has taken on a wise choice in committees, because they played to establishing a well-rounded portfolio of work, beefing up her weaknesses and keeping up her strengths. We already know that she's a dervish for the home-front domestic agenda, so the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, with subcommittees on Aging and Children & Families, and the Committee on Environment and Public Works, with subcommittees on Clean Air, Wetlands, Private Property, Nuclear Safety, Fisheries, Wildlife, Water, Superfund, Waste Control, and Risk Assessment, should come as no surprise. But the Committee on Armed Services, with subcommittees on Airland, Emerging Threats and Capabilities, and Readiness and Management Support, is a refreshing change in her focus. This is the concern that many voters will have about her qualifications: dealing with other countries, some of whom don't like you. She was also briefly on the Committee on Budget, so she boned up on fiscal matters, and she joined the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, so she will have at least a clue to what the names of European countries are, unlike some Presidents we could name. Now, can she get things done? Well, she was quick to secure $21.4 billion in funding for the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site. On the other hand, she was booed at a New York audience at the 2001 Concert for New York City shortly after, even though her husband was applauded. This tells us that she can take action, but still has a struggle with her public image. After she fired off an investigation into the health issues faced by 9/11 first responders, she earned new respect from the Uniformed Fire Officers Association and the Uniformed Firefighters Association, which shows she knew how to fix that, or else shows that everybody loves a fighter for public health. She also sought to form a panel to investigate the response to Hurricane Katrina. She supported and voted for the PATRIOT act, but then the only Senator to draw a Nay there was Russ Feingold. She is one of the "Iraq war wafflers", who first supported it but later reversed her position and now favors a phased withdrawal from Iraq. Strange for a Liberal Democrat with a focus on civil liberties, she is against gay marriage, but she is in favor of same-sex civil unions. She did vote against the Federal Marriage Amendment that would have made gay marriage prohibition a matter of Federal control, however. She was one of the Senators calling on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign. She has opposed irresponsible tax cut bills when they've come along, citing that it was fiscally irresponsible to reopen the budget deficit, and has voted with an eye towards keeping the budget surplus from Bill Clinton's administration; however, we've managed to plunge back into debt anyway. She has also lobbied to bring more jobs to her state of New York, and has worked to bring broadband Internet access to rural communities and cosponsored the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act. So she's aware that the U. S. needs jobs and to beef up its scientific development. Hillary Clinton has demonstrated active awareness of matters beyond her usual domestic home front agenda. Partisan critics may feel that her solutions are more "old-school liberal" than what today's political landscape calls for, while hard-line Democrats may say that she is not nearly Liberal enough. However, between her experience as one of the most politically engaged First Ladies this country as ever seen, combined with a highly conscientious Senate career, she has more than proven herself to the voting public as a viable, even preferred, candidate for the Presidency. Rudy Giuliani -- A Political Profile It's as simple as this: If you liked the Bush administration, you'll love Rudy Giuliani! And there's nothing that the Republican voters like better than no change. First, they got Ronald Reagan back in 1980. They liked him so much, they asked for seconds. Then when they couldn't have Reagan any more, they appointed his Vice President. The senior Vice President was only able to rule one term, before the Democrats ousted him and the Republicans had to grit their teeth and bear with a Democrat for eight years. Then they had a new hope: The son of the Vice President of their favorite President ran for office. They voted him in, and liked him so much, they asked for seconds. Now they're running our of Reagan surrogates. So they are searching for the next best thing. While Giuliani didn't have an official ceremony where he was presented with a sword and knighted by Reagan in front of a Skull 'n' Bones altar or anything, Giuliani is certainly doing his best to act like he's the next Republican in the line. He has certainly rubbed elbows with George Bush, Jr. He has marched boldly into political battle, with a 9/11 sword and an Iraq War shield, with an accompanying minstrel band singing of his mighty deeds in cleaning up New York City. With that kind of setting, what kind of President is he going to make? It should be noted that Giuliani is unique among the Presidential front-runners, in that the highest office he has held is City Mayor. However, he has served that time presiding over the city of New York, which cannot by any means be regarded as a city in the regular sense. Being Mayor of New York for seven years has got to be about as challenging as being Governor of someplace like, say, Oregon, for the same length of time. Nevertheless, he suffers in comparison to other candidates, almost unfairly so, because his experience as Mayor reflects smaller, civic duties which do not map well to the job of running an entire country. He has been a working lawyer for 19 years, more than double the time as Mayor, and furthermore was a prosecuting attorney for much of that time. Granted, he brought down both white-collar crooks and the Mafia, which qualifies as the best job any prosecuting attorney anywhere can do. But even this deprived him of the kind of experience that former lawyers such as John Edwards had, since even Edwards' cases had more of civil rights and liberties attached to them. Putting crooks in jail is a fine deed, but there's more to running a country. Rather than look at his past record, exemplary as it is, we can focus on his campaign promises. He has made a list of "twelve commitments", the full text of which is available on his website. Briefly, the bullet points are protection from terrorists, secure borders, restore fiscal discipline, cut taxes, make Washington accountable, energy independence, better health-care access, be pro-life, be tough on crime, safe communities, school choice, and more American involvement with the global economy. These are certainly impressive goals, and meeting them would keep the best of us busy. But on the other hand, they aren't that radical. Most candidates would pledge to do these things, with the exception of the pro-life one. It sounds like somebody took a default campaign promise template and read it off. To his credit, he has demonstrated that he has plans in place for meeting some of these goals. For instance, the health care goal has behind it the plan that proposes a tax deduction -- not a tax credit, which would benefit everyone -- of up to $15,000 for families and up to $7,500 for individuals who purchase private individual health insurance policies. In the case of a tax deduction, you must owe that much in taxes in order to derive any benefit -- and then, even the simplest treatment can cost many times that amount. His sole role in national defense thus far has been his decisive actions in the aftermath of 9/11. And indeed, he revealed himself as a strategic problem-solver during a crisis, and handled the response much better than, say, the Federal government did with FEMA and hurricane Katrina. However, it is also a point that any Mayor in any city would have done much the same thing. Nevertheless, Rudy Giuliani has a lot going for him on the campaign trail so far. He's polling at the top for his party, his campaign contributions are at or near the top for the Republican ticket, and he has won the endorsements of Steve Forbes, Tommy Thompson, Rick Perry, and Pat Robertson. If this were only a Republican election, he'd be home free. But he's polling either tied or below the Democratic front-runners in overall bipartisan polls, indicating that the Republicans may want to think twice about sending a Mayor to compete with a couple of Senators.
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