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2016 Presidential Contenders: TheWrap’s Essential Guide to Who’s In And Where They Stand (Updating)

The field to determine America’s 45th president is filling up fast: here are the challengers and where they stand on major issues

The 2016 presidential field is filling up fast on both sides of the political aisle.

On the Democrat side, consensus says Hillary Clinton is all but unbeatable in the primary, but many said that in 2008 — before Barack Obama went from underdog to president.

The Republican fray, however, is a up for grabs, with many political and media pundits predicting that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s experience, name recognition and money will land him the GOP nomination.

Read on for TheWrap‘s 2016 Presidential Contender Guide.


Ted Cruz (Republican)

Announcement date: Mar. 23, 2015

The first-term Texas Senator is a Tea Party darling and fierce opponent of President Obama on everything from health care to Iran. Cruz is running on a platform of restoring American freedom, tamping down debt and repealing Obamacare. Most political and media pundits think he’ll yield interesting debate sound bites — but won’t be a serious contender for the GOP nomination.

Women’s rights: Opposes abortion, voted not to reauthorize Violence Against Women Act on states’ rights grounds
Gay rights:
 Opposes same-sex marriage
Gun control: Supports unrestricted gun ownership
Environment: Opposes cap-and-trade, the offshore drilling moratorium and EPA authority
Supports flat tax, dismantling of the IRS
 Advocates repealing program
Immigration: Opposes amnesty/pathway to citizenship
Net neutrality: Opposes FCC Open Internet Order passed in 2015



Rand Paul (Republican)

Announcement date: Apr. 7, 2015

The first-term Kentucky Senator is the son of former Rep. Ron Paul, who ran for president in 2008 and 2012. Paul is running on a platform of limited government and involvement abroad. Before announcing, he did the most of any Republican in the field to reach out to minority communities and voters that haven’t voted the GOP’s way the last two cycles. Political and media experts expect Paul to be favored among libertarians and some conservatives, but not pose a significant threat to win the nomination.

Women’s rights: Against Violence Against Women Act, voted to block the Paycheck Fairness Act. 
Gay rights: 
Doesn’t endorse same-sex marriage, but believes people should be treated fairly under the law.
Gun control: Opposes all gun control legislation. 
 Plans to cut taxes across the board, simplify the tax code and shrink the IRS.
 Supports repeal of Obamacare.
Immigration: Opposes pathway to amnesty, supports aggressive border security measures.
Net neutrality: Opposes Internet regulation.


Hillary Clinton speaks with students in Iowa, April 14 (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Hillary Clinton (Democrat)

Announcement date: Apr. 12, 2015

Former First Lady, New York Senator and U.S. Secretary of State. Clinton lost the Democratic primary in 2008 to Barack Obama, winning 18 million votes along the way. She’s the heavy favorite in the Democratic field with many pundits citing her experience, name recognition and fundraising prowess as factors that can win her the nomination and general election eight years after her ’08 defeat. So far, Clinton has adapted a humbler, earn-every-vote approach as opposed to the “In to win” bravado of her first presidential run. She’s attracted media attention — both positive and negative — for years.

Women’s rights: Supports equal pay, advocates for female voters and gender equality.
Gay rights: 
Supports gay marriage.
Gun control: Has suggested expanding background checks and banning assault weapons.
 Calls for a tax cuts to help middle-class parents cope with rising child care costs.
Supports the Affordable Care Act.
Immigration: Supports the path to full equal citizenship and wants to expand amnesty.
Net neutrality: Supports Internet regulation, reclassification as utility.


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Marco Rubio (Republican)

Announcement date: Apr. 13, 2015

The first-term, Cuban-American Senator from Florida is the dark horse in the Republican field among many political and media pundits. Rubio’s relatively young political age (43), appeal to Latino voters and charisma help his case. Jeb Bush, who’s all but certain to run, is Rubio’s mentor in Florida, leading to a potential challenge between the two for a large chunk of GOP donors and voters. Rubio previously served as Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.

Women’s rights: Pro-life, and voted against a bill that would close the gender pay gap. He also voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
Gay rights: 
Voted to ban same-sex marriage as Florida legislator.
Gun control: Believes citizens should be allowed unrestricted access to guns.
Taxes: Advocates simplifying the tax code into two brackets, cutting the corporate tax rate and eliminating the capital gains tax.
Obamacare: Will repeal and replace the reform.
Immigration: Supports a pathway to citizenship but only after securing the border, clamping down on illegal workers and limiting visa overstays.
Net neutrality: Strongly opposes government regulation of the Internet.



Bernie Sanders (Independent)

Announcement date: Apr. 30, 2015

The Vermont Senator is the only self-described Democratic socialist in Congress. He’s currently serving his second term as a senator, known as a firebrand against corporate greed, the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and growing income inequality. Most political and media pundits don’t give Sanders a fighting chance to win the Democratic nomination, but most agree his progressive posture will push Hillary Clinton further left.

Women’s rights: Pro-choice, voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act
Gay rights: 
Strong advocate for gay Americans in all states deserving the right to wed.
Gun control: Strong supporter of gun control because he believes it will end gun violence.
 Backs the 90 percent top marginal tax rate reform.
Strongly opposes Obamacare, proposes single-payer health care instead.
Immigration: Supporter or immigration reform and pathway to citizenship.
Net neutrality: Very opposed to letting companies pay for faster delivery over the Internet.



Carly Fiorina (Republican)

Announcement date: May 4, 2015

The former Hewlett-Packard CEO is a surprise candidate, having lost her only previous bid for public office in 2010 to California Sen. Barbara Boxer. In 2009, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy. Fiorina is touting her business experience — and lack of a political resume — as a plus rather than a minus. Most pundits see her more as vice president material than a serious presidential candidate.

Women’s rights: She’s extremely pro-life, doesn’t believe in equal pay, and strongly opposes access to abortion and restrictions on birth control. 
Gay rights: 
Opposes gay marriage due to her religious beliefs, but says that government cannot provide benefits in a discriminatory fashion.
Gun control: Strongly supports the second amendment gun rights; she also opposed the 1994 bill which banned a large group of semi-automatic or assault weapons.
Taxes: Has said the current tax code is in need of reform and should be simplified, with a decrease in gas tax.
Obamacare: Doesn’t support it at all, and believes it is “fatally flawed.”
Immigration: She supports the DREAM Act, but at the same time believes that for other undocumented citizens, the “path to citizenship would be unfair.”
Net neutrality: She believes in overturning net neutrality.



Dr. Ben Carson (Republican)

Announcement date: May 4, 2015

The neurosurgeon became a GOP darling in 2013 when he went rogue at the National Prayer Breakfast, railing against Obamacare — with President Obama seated next to him. Since then, Carson has burnished his national profile, appearing frequently as a guest on both cable news and at GOP events, including 2015’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Like Fiorina, Carson has no political experience and wears that fact as a badge of honor. Political and media pundits don’t consider him a big threat in the Republican field.

Women’s rights: Opposes “abortion for convenience.”
Gay rights: 
Has previously compared homosexuality to pedophilia and bestiality.
Gun control: Believes the second amendment is vital.
 Calls for flat tax in which all people pay a tenth or so of their income tax.
Has called Obamacare “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.”
Immigration: Proposes a national guest worker program.
Net neutrality: Sees it as another layer of government control, while the government should focus its efforts on “exploring ways to allow people to do what they want to do.”


Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee (Republican)

Announcement date: May 5, 2015

The Former Arkansas governor and Fox News host made noise in the Republican field in 2008, winning the Iowa Caucus before ultimately losing to John McCain in the primary. Huckabee is a deeply-religious Baptist with appeal to the religious right, who’s also been a popular cable news host at Fox for the last seven years. Huckabee is considered a serious candidate who, with enough funding and early primary victories, could pose a challenge for the Republican nomination.

Women’s rights: Opposes abortion, except when the life of the mother is at risk.
Gay rights:
 Against gay marriage due to his religious beliefs: Marriage for same-sex couples would be a “criminalization of Christianity.”
Gun control: Supports gun ownership, proposes to allow concealed carry. 
 Eliminate income tax and the IRS. Replace it with national sales tax.
 Rejects the system as a solution, citing it as a “$2.2 trillion disaster.”
Immigration: Historically opposes pathway to citizenship, but has softened stance situationally in terms of securing the border so that every “American earns his or her maximum wage.”
Net neutrality: Has not issued a public statement.


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Lindsey Graham (Republican)

Announcement date: June 1, 2015

Graham has served as South Carolina Senator since 2003, previously having served in the United States Air Force from 1982 to 1988. He is known for his advocacy of a strong national defense and his support of the military, as well as his willingness to work with the Democrats on issues like global warming, tax reform and immigration. Despite being Republican, Graham stirs up emotions in his own party, raising doubts over whether he is a moderate or, as he’s billed himself, a “solid conservative.”

Women’s rights: Rejects abortion even if the fetus has a severe abnormality. 
Gay rights: 
Supports same-sex marriage but believes in traditional marriage.
Gun control: Staunch supporter of the Second Amendment.
 Wishes to simplify the tax code and reform entitlements.
Wants to repeal the health care reform.
Immigration: Supports pathway to citizenship.
Net neutrality: Believes “elected members of Congress rather than government bureaucrats should address issues of net neutrality.”


george pataki

George Pataki (Republican)

Announcement date: May 28, 2015

Pataki served as the 53rd Governor of New York from 1995 to 2006. “I’m a Republican following in the tradition of Teddy Roosevelt who understands that conservatism isn’t, just economic policy but it’s also preserving and enhancing the outdoors,” Pataki told the New York Post in May. The three-term governor favors states’ rights over federal law when it comes to issues like guns, marriage and education.

Women’s rights: Pro-choice: Ban late-term abortions and government funding of those, yet don’t tightly restrict access. 
Gay rights: 
His personal position is unclear, yet has said that the definition of marriage should be left up to the states to decide.
Gun control: States should ban some assault weapons, enact ballistics fingerprinting and place other limits on gun use.
 Believes taxes should be cut and that the federal tax code should be rewritten.
Against it and wants to find an alternative.
Immigration: In favor of granting some kind of legal status to undocumented immigrants.
Net neutrality: Has not issued a public position.


rick perry

Rick Perry (Republican)

Announcement date: June 4, 2015

Perry served as the 47th Governor of Texas from 2000 to 2015, making him the longest to serve in that role in the state’s history. Prior to that, he was the Lieutenant Governor under George W. Bush, assuming the governorship in 2000 when Bush was elected President. Perry was a candidate for the GOP’s presidential nomination in 2012, but withdrew after placing last in the New Hampshire primary.

Women’s rights: Opposes abortion, implementing some of the strictest abortion bills. 
Gay rights:
Does not “condone” nor does he “condemn” the gay “lifestyle,” arguing that the issue of gay marriage should be left to the states.
Gun control: Advocates an individual’s right to bear arms.
Taxes: Opposes and vetos any efforts to increase taxes.
Obamacare: Obama’s health care reform should be replaced, but the individual states should find an alternative.
Immigration: Believes immigration reform should start with border security.
Net neutrality: Opposes net neutrality.



Rick Santorum (Republican)

Announcement date: May 27, 2015

A notorious conservative and religious freedoms advocate, Santorum lost out to Mitt Romney for the GOP nomination in the 2012 presidential election. Known for a hard line on “family values” and controversial statements to that end, he served as Pennsylvania senator from 1995-2007, when he lost his seat to Bob Casey Jr.

Women’s rights: Against contraception, and an advocate for banning abortion even in cases of rape and incest.
Gay rights: 
Strongly opposes gay rights and gay marriage, having supported laws banning consensual gay sex in the past.
Gun control: Has often supported gun laws, and is a firm advocate for people’s rights to bear arms. 
Opposes the health care reform, and has compared it to Apartheid.
Immigration: Wants to veto DREAM Act, and demands cutting legal immigration.
Net neutrality: Has not spoken out about the issue.


martin o'malley

Martin O’Malley (Democrat)

Announcement date: May 30, 2015

O’Malley served as the Baltimore City Councilor form 1991 to 1999, the Mayor of Baltimore from 1999 to 2007 and the 61st governor of Maryland from 2007 to 2015. As governor, he signed a law that would allow certain undocumented immigrants eligible for in-state college tuitions. In 2012, he signed a law to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland. During his two-term gubernatorial run, he also passed new gun control laws, increased the minimum wage and repealed the death penalty.

Women’s rights: Supports legal abortion, even late abortion when the life of the mother is at risk. 
Gay rights: 
Wishes to legalize same-sex marriage.
Gun control: Believes stricter gun control laws should be implemented. 
 Use tax increases to fund government programs, and raise the minimum wage
Wishes to expand the Affordable Care Act, and move towards an “all-payer” system.
Immigration: Create a path to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally. Pass the DREAM Act.
Net neutrality: Agrees with Obama’s Net Neutrality approach.



Lincoln Chafee (Democrat)

Announcement date: June 3, 2015

The Governor of Rhode Island was the fourth major Democrat to declare his intentions, which may have come as a surprise to those who stopped paying attention to his career after 2007, when he switched his party affiliation from Republican. Chafee served as senator from 1999-2007, having won the 2000 election after being appointed to finish out his father’s term, and has served Rhode Island’s top post since 2011. As senator, Chafee was the only Republican to vote against using force to depose Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

Women’s rights: Supports abortion rights and thinks those rights should remain a federal decision.
Gay rights: Supports same-sex marriage.
Gun control: Supports gun control laws.
Taxes: Believes we must reform the tax codes by lowering rates, ending deductions, and limiting the estate tax.
Obamacare: Keep the Affordable Care Act and move toward universal coverage.
Immigration: Offer a path to citizenship and federal officials should enforce immigration laws.
Net neutrality: Has not spoken out about the issue.


jeb bush

Jeb Bush (Republican)

Announcement date: June 15, 2015

Jeb Bush, the second son of former President George H.W. Bush and the younger brother of George W. Bush, was the 43rd governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007, during which time his state decided the 2000 presidential election for his brother. He’s seen as the headier Bush brother, with more appeal among the coveted Hispanic vote than his non-Latino rivals owing to his Spanish fluency and Mexican-born wife, Columba.

Women’s rights: Strongly opposes access to abortion, even if the mother’s health is in danger. 
Gay rights:
Against gay marriage.
Gun control:
 Extremely pro-gun, the NRA-written “Stand Your Ground” law was approved by Bush.
Has condemned Obamacare, saying it is “flawed to the core.”
Immigration: Open to allowing illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.
Net neutrality: Has said that net neutrality is the craziest thing he’s ever heard.


donald trump

Donald Trump (Republican)

Announcement date: June 16, 2015

The real estate magnate, investor and television personality became the 12th Republican to formally declare his run for the White House. He is the chairman and president of The Trump Organization and the founder of Trump Entertainment Resorts, as well as the host of NBC’s “The Apprentice.” His net worth is estimated to be $4 billion, something he wasn’t shy about mentioning in his announcement speech, when he said, “I’ll be the greatest jobs President that God ever created.”

Women’s rights: Pro-life after having been pro-choice for years. 
Gay rights: 
acknowledges that it is an evolving issue but still believes that marriage should be between and man and a woman.
Gun control: Has a pistol permit and believes in the Second Amendment.
Taxes: He once suggested a one-time 14.25 percent tax raise to help pay off debt and support Social Security programs. 
Against universal health care, has said Obamacare is a “filthy lie,” and that it should be repealed immediately.
Immigration: Against immigration in terms of Mexicans, but believes the country should let in Europeans.
Net neutrality: Has compared net neutrality to the Fairness Doctrine.

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