|In an earlier article, I profiled three religious conservative US Republican presidential contenders. What about the rest of the field- and are there any safer bets on offer?
Surprisingly, one of them, Fred Karger, is an out gay man! He is the former director of Californians Against Hate, lobbyists against the Californian Proposition 8, which briefly banned same-sex marriage proper in that state until the courts struck it down. He's Jewish and a strong supporter of Israel's foreign policy, as well as a former tobacco lobbyist.
Of the saner nominees,Jon Huntsman is probably one of the best prospects. This former Utah Governor has strong ties to the Reagan and Bush I White Houses, and has also served as a US trade representative. However, he also backs climate change reform initiatives and is progressive when it comes to the recognition of civil unions, oddly for a Mormon. He is also regarded as an Asia policy expert, which should buttress his electoral chances, given the prominence of China as a creditor nation during the current US foreign debt crisis. Another moderate Republican is former New Mexico Republican Governor Gary Johnson, who is outspokenly antiwar when it comes to the Afghan and Iraqi conflicts, as well as a staunch enemy of prohibitionist drug policies, and supporter of civil unions. Unfortunately, given the hard right dominance of the Republican Party, the three aforementioned nominees may not reach the runoff heats.
There are others in the race that deserve some mention. Ron Paul is a Texan "libertarian" when it comes to tax policy and isolationist when it comes to overseas military intervention. He is seen as the forerunner of the Republican-aligned "Tea Party" antitax movement. He is opposed to gun control legislation and drug prohibitionism, but rabidly statist when it comes to pontificating about women's reproductive freedom and wants abortion access prohibited. He opposed the anti- SSM Federal Marriage Amendment, but supports allowing states to ban same-sex marriages, and is 'neutral' when it comes to civil unions, although he voted against allowing the District of Columbia to allow inclusive adoption. He opposes an end to military service discrimination and LGBT relationship and spousal equality legislation. He also wants the United States to pull out of the United Nations, NATO, NAFTA and the World Trade Organisation. He'd probably be the worst Republican prospect for New Zealand in terms of our own free trade aspirations with the United States.
Newt Gingrich was the former US Republican House of Representatives Speaker during the mid-nineties, when the Republican-dominated Congress passed swingeing tax cuts, corporate and financial sector deregulation and welfare privatisation legislation. During his tenure, however, the Republicans became embroiled in a futile impeachment campaign against President Clinton and Gingrich himself was in repeated trouble with Congressional ethics committees and watchdog groups. When the Republican Congressional presence weakened as a result of these excesses in 1999, he left the House shortly afterward. He denounces LGBT rights as a "gay and secular fascism." He is now closely associated with the New Right's American Enterprise Insitute. Gingrich opposes civil unions and same-sex marriage, as well as inclusive adoption reform. He supports the anti-SSM federal "Defence of Marriage Act" but would also support a Federal Marriage Amendment if that was found to be unconstitutional.
Finally, Tim Pawlenty is the current Minnesota Republican Governor. Like his compatriot Michele Bachmann, he is a fundamentalist Christian and opponent of abortion rights, same-sex marriage, civil unions, lesbian and gay relationship and spousal equality, an end to antigay military service discrimination and President Obama's healthcare reforms. Surprisingly, however, he passed anti-discrimination legislation that included sexual orientation and gender identity within his state. He is also an outspoken supporter of the US Christian Right's most hardline organisation, the Family Research Council and has repeatedly attacked same-sex marriage proper repeatedly. Craig Young - 2nd August 2011