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Presidential election 2004: Candidates, issues, and positions

by Saeda Oliver, staff writer


With fewer than 14 days until the 2004 Presidential Election, young voters appear to be sustaining interest in the election. This is attributed to initiatives such as MTV’s Choose or Lose, the New Voters Project, and Rock the Vote. Presidential candidates are reaching out to young people, expecting them to be the swing vote. But, according to The Youth Vote Coalition, the youth voter turnout rate has declined 13 percent among 18-24 year old voters from1972-2000.


One reason for the low percentage of young voters, according to Dominick Metzler of the New Voters Project, is overwhelming number of excuses made by young people who have no interest in voting during the upcoming election. They don’t want junk mail from the government; they don’t want to be contacted for jury duty; they basically don’t care.
Eddie London, a 19-year-old sophomore here at HPU, said, “I personally feel that my vote doesn’t count. It’s out of the public’s hand. The last election proved that.”
Another explanation for the drop in the number of young people expected at the election booth is that political knowledge in the United States today is very low. A recent survey revealed that young Americans know little about current issues and don’t follow the debates.
“Knowing how your local government works or the politicians who represent you allows you to seek information that is personally relevant,” said Markus Prior of Princeton University (We the People, 2003).
With many polls showing that Bush and Kerry are not far apart in the overall race, youth voters could play a crucial part in the outcome of the Nov. 2 election. With this in mind, Kalamalama offers this look at who the two major candidates are and where they stand on the major issues of concern to U.S. citizens today.
Web photo by Paul Marsh
President George W. Bush (R)
Family: Wife, Laura Welch Bush, two daughters: Jenna and Barbara
Birthplace: New Haven, Connecticut
Birth date: 07/6/1946
Hometown: Crawford, Texas
Education: BA, History, Yale University, 1968; MBA, Harvard University
Professional Experience: Former Board Member, Tom Brown Inc.; Pilot, Texas Air National Guard; Founder/CEO, Bush Exploration; General Partner, Texas Rangers Baseball Organization
Political Experience: President of the United States of America 2000-present, Governor of Texas 1994-2000
Organizations: Tarrytown Methodist Church, Austin, Texas; Highland Park United Methodist Church, Dallas, Texas; First United Methodist Church, Midland Texas; Past Board Member, National Paralysis Committee Chair, Hearts, and Hammers Housing Rehabilitation Group
Religion: Methodist
Courtesy Star-Tribune Web site
Senator John Forbes Kerry (D-Mass.)
Family: Wife: Teresa Heinz, two daughters: Alexandra and Vanessa.
Birthplace: Aurora, Colorado
Birth date: 12/11/1943
Hometown: Boston, Massachusetts
Education: BA, Political Science, Yale University, 1966; JD, Boston College Law School, 1976
Professional Experience: First Assistant District Attorney; Attorney; Lieutenant in the U.S. National Guard, received Silver Star, Bronze Star, three Purple Hearts, two Presidential Unit Citations, and a National Defense Medal
Political Experience: Senator, U.S. Senate 1984-present; Lieutenant Governor, Massachusetts, 1983-85
Organizations: Leader of the Vietnam Veterans against the War; Co-Founder of the Vietnam Veterans of America
Caucuses/ Non-Legislative Committees: Co-Chair, Congressional Vietnam Era Veterans Caucus; Chair, Democratic Steering Committee; Chair, Hispanic Task Force; Senate New Democrat Coalition
Religion: Roman Catholic

The issues:

George W. Bush-Republican
Affirmative Action
Opposes racial quotas and racial preferences, believes it is unconstitutional.
Gay Issues
· Supports banning same-sex marriage.
· Supports the Defense of Marriage Act.(The act, signed by President Clinton, defines marriage as the union between man and woman only. It also stipulates that no state must accept another state’s definition of marriage.)
· Supports the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy for gays in the military.

· Currently opposes abortion except if the women’s life is in danger or in cases of rape or incest, but in Febuary 2004 stated that if reelected he will urge legislation to take away a woman’s right to choose during the first trimester.
· Signed legislation to outlaw partial-birth abortion.
Death Penalty
Supports the death penalty.
Drug Policy
Proposes to reduce illegal drug usage by 10 percent over the next two years.
Gun Control
· Supports granting gun makers immunity from civil lawsuits.
· Supports implementing better enforcement of current laws.
Supports private school vouchers.
Supreme Court
Prefers judges who are “strict constructionists” (literal or narrow interpretation of the U.S. Constitution).
Drug Costs
Supports reducing drug costs for low-income patients.
Prescription Drug Benefits
Signed legislation that will make prescription drug coverage available to 40 million seniors and people with disabilities through Medicare.
Nationalized Health Care
· Favors improving current health care system over government-based system.
· Proposes giving the uninsured a chance to buy health insurance through individual savings and tax cuts
· Favors medical savings accounts so workers can have more control of their health insurance.
Health Medical Organizations (HMOs)
Would place limits on patient lawsuits against HMOs.
· Rejected the Kyoto Treaty, believes treaty could hurt the U.S. economy.
· Favors drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Preserve.
· Opposes the proposal to raise gas mileage standards for passenger vehicles.
· Supports the expansion of the Energy Star Program, a government/industry partnership to promote energy efficient product.
· Proposes to increase production of fossil and renewable energy resources on Federal and Tribal lands.
· Supports tax incentives for hybrid and fuel cell vehicles, and residential solar energy systems.
· Will provide financial incentives for the construction of a natural gas pipeline from Alaska.
· Supports nuclear power as a viable and emissions-free energy source.
· Proposes to increase ethanol and bio-diesel production by five billion gallons as transportation fuel.
· Supports double funding to reduce energy costs in low-income households.
· Believes tax cuts spur economic growth and deter recession.
· Pledges to cut the deficit in half after five years.
· Opposed UN involvement in Iraq.
· Supports staying in Iraq for the long haul.
· Favors new temporary worker program to match foreign workers with United States employers when no Americans can be found to fill the position.
· Supports NAFTA and WTO Agreements
· Supports liberalized trade.
· Proposes numerous bilateral trade deals.
· Signed a proclamation granting permanent trading relations with China.
Supports the Patriot Act.
· Created a new cabinet-level position to coordinate anti-terrorism efforts.
· Reconfigured the FBI to focus on preventive domestic foreign attacks.

The issues:
John Kerry-Democrat

· Opposes and voted against partial-birth abortion.
· Agrees that it is a constitutional right for a woman to make a choice respectful to her health.
Affirmative Action
Supports affirmative action programs in the workplace and university admissions.
Gay Issues
· Supports civil unions for same-sex couples.
· Opposes constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
· Opposes the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and would allow gays to serve in the military openly.
· Would expand hate-crime protections to gays.
· Voted against Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, but backs benefits and rights for same sex couples.
· Wants stricter sentencing for hate crimes.
· Would require DNA testing for all federal executions?
Death Penalty
Opposes the death penalty.
Drug Policy
Supports aggressively targeting traffickers by hiring more police and increasing funding of treatment.
Gun Control
· Would deny gun makers immunity from civil lawsuits.
· Supports renewing ban on assault weapons.
· At gun shows, would require the same background checks on potential buyers that are mandatory at gun stores.
· Would require child safety locks on weapons.
· Will provide a $4,000 tuition tax credit to help college students.
· Favors raising teacher salaries by an unspecified amount.
· Opposes private school vouchers, fearing they will reduce money for public schools.
· Voted for No Child Left Behind in 2001. (The act supports allowing states and communities to have more flexibility with funds, emphasizes proven effective educational programs, and allows more choices for parents.)
· Proposes to increase early childhood programs, such as Head Start and fully fund special-needs education.
· Proposes to triple the number of educational exchanges by encouraging colleges to give tuition waivers for foreign students in exchange for internships overseas for American students.
Supreme Court
Would appoint judges committed to civil law and abortion rights.
Drug Costs

Proposes reducing the costs of prescription drugs by purchasing medicine in bulk.
Prescription Drug Benefit
Supports tightening rules for drug companies.
Nationalized Health Care
· Supports tax credits for small businesses for health insurance.
· Proposes a 75-percent health insurance tax credit for the unemployed.
· Would allow private citizens to obtain affordable health care through federal employee insurance systems by the use of tax cuts and subsidies.
Health Medical Organizations (HMOs)
· Supports addition of prescription drug benefits to Medicare that do not rely on HMOs.
· Supports allowing a patient to sue doctors and hold HMOs accountable for medical mistakes.
· Wants to renegotiate the Kyoto Treaty (designed to limit gases that cause global warming) or propose an alternative.
· Will require stricter requirements for companies operating on public lands.
· Opposes all drilling and exploration in the Artic National Wildlife Preserve.
· Supports raising gas mileage standards.
· Set goal of using 20-percent renewable or alternatively sourced electricity by 2020.
· Wants the United States to have independence from Middle East oil in 10 years.
· Proposes acceleration of the development of hybrid and fuel cell vehicles.
· Proposes to invest $1 billion dollars annually to assist auto industry build more energy-efficient cars.
· Proposes to expand the supply of natural gas in North America and the Gulf of Mexico.
· Supports rolling back tax cuts for the rich (those making $200,000 or more) to the level they were before 2000.
· Proposes to expand tax cuts for the middle class (families with children and married couples with incomes below $200,000).
· Proposes to lower the corporate tax rate by 5-percent.
· Proposes to cut the federal deficit in half by end of term.
· Proposes to create 10 million new jobs.
· Wants to involve more nations in rebuilding Iraq.
· Supports improving social, economic, and political conditions in the Middle East.
· Favors legalizing undocumented immigrants if they have been in the United States for a certain amount of time, have been employed, and can pass a background check.
· Supports legislation that would provide immigration relief to undocumented high school students who have spent most of their lives in the United States and demonstrate good moral character.
· Favors speeding up the naturalization process and reducing the wait for family visas.
· Supports North American and World Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
· Supports elevated trade status and having permanent trading relations with China.
· Proposes creation of a “North American Security Perimeter” to better coordinate customs, immigration, and law enforcement agencies to deter terrorist threats.
Patriot Act
Favors letting the act expire because certain civil liberties have been disregarded under the current one.
· Proposes to reform domestic intelligence.
National Guard
· Proposes to make homeland security a central mission for the National Guard and the American Corps.



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