Article Title:US: War with the Newt?
Author or Credit:Craig Young
Published on:9th February 2012 - 12:11 pm
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Story ID:11377
Text:As the US Republican nominee race continues, it is now almost down to two main contenders- former US House of Representatives speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. But is Rick Santorum making a comeback? What do the two candidates stand for? Romney is more moderate on some issues than others. This doesn't apply to abortion, as he favours overturning Roe v Wade. Although he opposes same-sex marriages and civil unions alike, he does support the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would end workplace discrimination against lesbians and gay men. He also favours stricter sentencing for child sexual abuse perpetrators, retention of the federal US Department of Education, abstinence education as opposed to comprehensive sex education, and supports intervention againstthe existence of climate change but not carbon pricing or taxation programmes. He also supports a ban on assault weapons as a form of gun control, opposes prayer in schools, opposes medicinal cannabis decriminalisation, opposes long-termunemployment benefit assistance, opposes Capital Gains Tax and estate taxes. He is inconsistent about support for/opposition to President Obama's public healthcare initiatives and funding for stimulus packages to revive the stagnant US economy, although he does support intervention assistance for the US automobile industry. However, he also supports deregulation of the financial sector, which was largely responsible for the turmoil of the current US recession. Gingrich is anti-abortion, opposing the use of federal funds to pay for abortion access. He opposes stringent campaign finance laws, opposes restrictions on child employment, would downgrade environmental protection to placate the US oil lobby, would enact brutal cuts to Medicaid and Social Security (welfare) programmes, and is a climate change denialist, opposing carbon pricing and taxes.He is consistently opposed to Obamacare's public health access provisions, supports broad tax cuts, and opposes same-sex marriage, stem cell research and corporate bailouts from the Obama administration. He has talked about a new "Contract With America", which echoes the mid-nineties Republican Congressional agenda of fiscal conservatism, financial sector deregulation and constraints on government spending. He would achieve a "Balanced Budget" through removal of the US Department of Education and the Environmental Protection Agency. He favours more stringent US border controls through a wall against alleged influxes ofMexican and Central American 'illegal immigrants' but also increased spending on federal job training. When it comes to LGBTrights, Romney almost seems the lesser of two evils,at least when it comes to ENDA. However, he also opposes same-sex marriage and civil unions, and would only provide a weak, second class limited 'domestic partnership' relationship recognition option that would recognise some relationship-based rights and responsibilities, but not others. On some issues, he is genuinely more moderate than Gingrich, but there is also striking consensus on some issues compared to others. How would Obamacare cuts affect LGBThealth service users, particularly PLWAs and breast cancer survivors? And what would happen to LGBTstudents with educational provision outsourced to religious education providers? At present, Gingrich appears to be picking up some Southern states, most significantly North Carolina, but Romney won Florida and Nevada, whichhas provided him with a strong contingent of supporters. Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann have alreadyformally withdrawn their nominations, and given that both Ron Paul and Rick Santorumare trailing the main candidates, they may do so within the next month or so. While Ron Paul's effort is languishing, Rick Santorum has received a much-needed boost from consecutive primary victories in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri. What happened there? Colorado is a nerve centre for the US Christian Right and Rick Santorum has an edge over Romney, given that he is a conservative Catholic and therefore more 'acceptable' as a conservative Christian co-belligerent, compared to Romney, as a Mormon. As yet, it is too early to evaluate whether this trend will continue. If it does, though, will Santorum be able to reach beyond his Christian Right core constituency toward mainstream Americans if he manages to secure the eventual nomination? And what about Gingrich? In this instance, one is tempted to attribute Gingrich's becalmed status to Romney's earlier online attack advertisements from Florida and Nevada, which may have raised questions about the lack of coherent strategy, Gingrich's three marriages and his vulnerability over past questions of Congressional ethics violations while US House of Representatives Speaker in the mid-nineties. Santorum has no such baggage, which may explain his progress in the Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri primaries. However, theUSeconomy is showing signs of hesitant growth, which may give President Obama an incumbency advantage. Neither Romney, Gingrich or Santorumhas selected a vice-presidential running mate. In the next instalment of this irregular series on the US presidential and Congressional campaigns, I will take a closer look at Santorum's other public policy positions. Recommended: Newt Gingrich Campaign website: Rick Santorum Campaign website: Mitt Romney Campaign website: Craig Young - 9th February 2012    
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