After a fierce Republican primary race that ended with Mitt Romney accepting the party's nomination, the 2012 U.S. Presidential race is down to one incumbent and one challenger. Here is how the candidates stack up against one another.
It’s time to apply the same rules from top to bottom: No bailouts, no handouts and no cop-outs. An America built to last insists on responsibility from everybody... Let’s never forget: Millions of Americans who work hard and play by the rules every day deserve a government and a financial system that does the same.— State of the Union address to joint session of Congress (January 24th 2012)
Barack Obama (D)
Name: Barack Hussein Obama II
Education: B.A. Political Science (specialty in International Relations), Columbia University, 1983; J.D., Harvard University, 1991
Family Status: Married to Michelle Obama since 1992; two children
Political History: Obama was first elected to the Illinois Senate in 1996, where he was able to garner bipartisan support to reform health care and ethics laws. He was re-elected in 1998 and again in 2002, after losing the Democratic primary for the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2004, he was elected to the U.S. Senate in an unexpected landslide victory, making him the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus to serve in the Senate. That same year, Obama gave the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, which catapulted him to the forefront of the Democratic party. In 2008, Obama beat Hillary Clinton to become the Democratic candidate for president, and would eventually defeat Republican John McCain in the general election, becoming the first African-American to serve as President.
Background: Obama’s campaign for president centered on bringing hope and change to Washington’s political culture, an idea that resonated with voters who were frustrated with the Bush presidency. His proposals included fixing health care, winding down American military operations abroad, and closing down the detention centre in Guantanamo Bay. Shorty before taking office, however, the United States economy was hit particularly hard by the global recession. The economy and subsequent unemployment would follow Obama throughout his first term, as well as his decision of a $787-million stimulus package. He was still able to pass some key reforms, including repealing the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell rule on gays and lesbians serving in the military, and instituting health care reform. Obama has scored some significant victories abroad as well, including ending combat operations in Iraq, helping the Libyan effort to depose Moammar Gadhafi, and approving the military operation that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden. In his 2012 State of the Union address, Obama touted these accomplishments while committing to invest in domestic initiatives like education, employment, and tax reform to help middle class Americans and protect the country from another economic crisis.
Mitt Romney Carlos Osorio
Like other presidents before him, Barack Obama inherited a recession. But unlike them, he has made it worse, not better.— USA Today (2009)
Mitt Romney (R)
Name: Willard Mitt Romney
Education: B.A. English, Brigham Young University, 1971; MBA, Harvard University, 1975
Family Status: Married to Ann Romney since 1969; five children
Political History: First ran for office in 1994, losing to Ted Kennedy for Senate seat by a margin of 58-41 per cent. He had better luck in his second attempt at public office, running unopposed in the Republican primary for the gubernatorial race in Massachusetts and defeating Democrat Shannon O’Brien to become governor. After raising his profile as the feature speaker at the 2004 Republican National Convention, Romney ran for the Republican nomination for president in 2008, winning 11 primaries/caucuses, but he would eventually drop out of the race and endorse John McCain.
Background: Romney has a strong record in business as head of venture capital firm Bain Capital, and won huge plaudits for his high-profile turnaround of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. As governor of Massachusetts, his highest profile move was his overhaul of the state’s health care, which featured a system of mandatory insurance and is noted as a precursor to President Barack Obama’s controversial health care reform. His business experience has won him the support of the party establishment, who see him as a competent economic manager who has the best chance of defeating President Obama in November. But his perceived lack of vigour on conservative issues, and what his critics describe as his changing positions on hot button issues like abortion, gay rights, abstinence, and stem-cell research, have left very conservative Americans doubting his candidacy.