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Next president faces a demanding agenda.

Byline: John J. Monahan

The next president of the United States will face the aftermath of an economic hurricane that has ravaged retirement funds, property values and the banking system and the onset of what could be a global recession and rising unemployment.

Whether it is Democrat Sen. Barack Obama or Republican Sen. John McCain, he will be sworn in to lead a nation trying to find an exit strategy for the war in Iraq and facing an uncertain outcome in the guerrilla war in Afghanistan.

Many controversial domestic issues, including abortion, energy independence, global warming policy and who will get tax breaks or federal bailouts, could be decided in large part by whom voters choose Tuesday to replace two-term Republican President George W. Bush.

Mr. McCain, 72, and the father of seven children, is a Naval Academy graduate who retired after 22 years as a decorated Navy fighter pilot. He spent 5-1/2 years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. As a congressman and senator from Arizona, he gained a reputation as moderate conservative willing to challenge wasteful spending and buck his own party on occasion.

He strongly supported the initial invasion of Iraq. While criticizing President Bush's management of the war, he was among the few presidential candidates who backed last year's troop surge in Iraq, which has led to a significant reduction in insurgent violence there.

Mr. Obama, 47, and the father of two children, grew up in Hawaii except for a few years spent in Indonesia, and graduated from Columbia University in 1983. After graduation he took up work as a community organizer in poor neighborhoods in Chicago for several years before moving to Massachusetts to attend Harvard Law School. He became the first African-American editor of the Harvard Law Review.

After graduating in 1991, he returned to Chicago and won a state Senate seat that he held for eight years. In 2004, Mr. Obama ran successfully for the U.S. Senate to become only the third African-American elected to the Senate since the Civil War.

He drew national attention with a keynote address to the Democratic National Convention in 2004, emphasizing the politics of hope over politics of cynicism and calling for a new brand of less confrontational politics promoting social justice and opportunity. "There's not a liberal America and a conservative America, there's the United States of America," he declared then, heralding a theme he has worked throughout the presidential campaign.

A prominent opponent of the initial invasion of Iraq, Mr. Obama has long called for a timetable for withdrawal and a refocusing of military operations in Afghanistan against the Taliban and al-Qaida forces there.

Both candidates beat large fields of candidates in extended primary elections that began earlier than ever and lasted far into the spring. Backed by an extensive network of grass-roots volunteers, Mr. Obama finally beat out the early front-runner, N.Y. Sen. Hillary Clinton, with a campaign promising "change we can believe in." Mr. McCain, trading on his signature "straight talk" style, outpolled more conservative bids by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee through a string of elections that followed his initial victory in the New Hampshire this year.

Both chose vice presidential running mates intended to bolster their candidacies. Mr. Obama picked Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., whose deep knowledge of foreign policy and extensive experience with international crises countered criticism that Mr. Obama

lacked experience in foreign affairs. Mr. McCain tapped a national political neophyte, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, in a move seen as an attempt to shore up the ticket's appeal with conservatives and those disappointed with Mrs. Clinton's failed bid to have a woman on the Democratic presidential ticket.

In the final phases of the campaign, the candidates have skirmished over different approaches to the economic crisis, foreign affairs, energy independence, health care, and tax cuts. Mr. Obama has characterized Mr. McCain as offering more of the same policies of the Bush administration, while Mr. McCain has increasingly tried to separate himself from the Bush legacy.

Chuck Baldwin

Age: 56

Party affiliation: Constitution

Education: Thomas Road Bible Institute; bachelor's and master's degrees from Christian Bible College.

Political experience: State chairman Florida Moral Majority; 2004 vice presidential candidate for the Constitution Party, the Alaska Independence Party, and other tickets.

Issues: Foreign policy views include opposition to the "new world order," the United Nations, NATO, free-trade agreements, the Iraq war, and illegal immigration. Accuses Mexico of deliberately working to destabilize the United States. Believes the United States should withdraw from the U.N. and would push to get the U.N. out of New York City. Reopen the investigation into the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. End "empire building and playing policeman of the world."

Economy: Would return to the gold standard, end federal income taxes in favor of 10 percent tariff on imports, and streamline the federal government.

Health care: End immunization requirements and eliminate the Food and Drug Administration as unconstitutional. Anti-abortion.

Education: Disband U.S. Department of Education, repeal all federal legislation related to education, support home schooling and private schools.

Energy: Drill for oil in Alaska and other areas.

Personal: Married, three children

Running mate: Darrell Castle

Bob Barr

Age: 59

Party affiliation: Libertarian

Education: Master's degree, George Washington University; law degree from Georgetown University.

Political experience: GOP congressman from Georgia, 1995-2003.

Issues: Economy: Substitute consumption tax for income tax, eliminate "corporate welfare," slash government spending. Don't interfere with free market.

Foreign policy: Complete withdrawal from Iraq.

Energy: Federal government should eliminate restrictions that inhibit energy production, as well as privileges for production of politically favored fuels. Favors offshore and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling.

Health care: No mandated insurance coverage. End controls that restrict competition and limit interstate access to insurance. Tax policy, which favors employer-provided, comprehensive insurance, should encourage individual purchase of cheaper catastrophic policies. Medicare and Medicaid should focus on the needy and cost-saving incentives. Abortion voting record is mixed.

Education: Abolish the Department of Education, eliminate federal grants and regulations. Tax credits for parents who home-school or send their children to private schools.

Personal: Married, four children

Running mate: Businessman, author, TV producer Wayne Allen Root.

John McCain

Age: 72

Party affiliation: Republican

Education: U.S. Naval Academy

Political experience: Two terms U.S. House; four terms U.S. Senate.

Issues: Economy: Government purchase of bad mortgages, which would be renegotiated; and a one-year suspension of requirements that people 70-1/2 and older begin cashing in retirement accounts. Make Bush tax cuts permanent, eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax, double the personal exemption for dependents, cut corporate tax rate.

Foreign policy: Opposes withdrawing troops from Iraq. Willing to have permanent U.S. peacekeeping force in Iraq. U.S. strength in Afghanistan should be increased. Tougher sanctions on Iran, and no direct high-level talks with Iranian president.

Health care: $2,500 refundable tax credit for individuals, $5,000 for families to make health insurance more affordable. Would tax payments businesses make toward coverage. Anti-abortion.

Energy: Move toward energy independence though offshore drilling, nuclear power and clean coal research. No Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling. Mandatory 60 percent reduction of greenhouse gasses.

The co-author of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law is running his general campaign with public money and within its spending limits.

Personal: Married, seven children

Running mate: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin

Cynthia McKinney

Age: 53

Party affiliation: Green-Rainbow

Education: B.A., University of Southern California; M.A., Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University; diplomatic fellow, Spellman College, 1984; currently Ph.D. student at University of Southern California.

Political experience: Two terms in the Georgia House of Representatives; six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Issues: Economy: Wants bailout plan to include home foreclosure protections; supports increased accounting oversight; opposes bank and telecommunications deregulation and privatization of public services and resources; supports livable minimum wage and repeal of Taft-Hartley restrictions; repeal unfair trade pacts.

Foreign policy: Supports withdrawal from Iraq and giving U.N. and regional coalition a major role in dealing with security during transition to a new government; stop weapons transfers to undemocratic government; reduce military spending; ban landmines.

Energy: Supports higher efficiency standards and conversion to renewable sources; implement Kyoto; raise CAFE; no new offshore drilling.

Health care: Supports single-payer national health insurance. Strict standards on Genetically Modified Organisms. Pro-choice.

Other: Allow all candidates to participate in presidential debates.

Personal: Divorced, one child

Running mate: Rosa Clemente

Ralph Nader

Age: 74

Party affiliation: Independent

Education: B.A., Princeton; Harvard Law School

Political experience: Candidate for president 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004

Issues: Economy: Require equitable trade, invest in labor-intensive public works; adopt a Wall Street speculation tax; crack down on corporate crime and "corporate welfare"; end "corporate personhood"; fully fund education; repeal Taft-Hartley anti-union law.

Foreign policy: Rapid withdrawal from Iraq, with U.N.-sponsored elections; support Israeli/Palestinian peace movements working for two-state solution; pressure China to stop abuses in Tibet; cut military spending; make support for human rights cornerstone of foreign policy.

Energy: Adopt carbon pollution tax; promote solar, not nuclear, power; end subsidies of oil, nuclear, electric and coal mining industries; create a renewable energy efficiency policy.

Health care: Adopt single-payer national health insurance; redirect bureaucratic and fraudulent health expenditures toward preventive health care. Supports abortion rights.

Other: Allow national referendum on proposals for change; open up presidential debates and ballot access to smaller-party candidates.

Personal: Single, no children

Running mate: Mark Gonzalez

Barack Obama

Age: 47

Party affiliation: Democrat

Education: Columbia University, Harvard Law School

Political experience: Three terms in the Illinois Senate; one term in the U.S. Senate.

Issues: Economy: Stronger market oversight, growth funds for jobs and states, middle- and lower-class tax relief, eliminate capital gains tax on startup and small business, small business health tax credit. Reopen North American Free Trade Agreement to strengthen labor and environmental enforcement.

Foreign policy: Withdraw from Iraq and act against terrorists hiding along Afghan-Pakistan border. Rebuild alliances. Intensify diplomatic pressure on Iran. Negotiate a verifiable global ban on production of nuclear weapons material and secure loose nuclear material around the world.

Energy: Independence through $150 billion fund to boost "climate-friendly" measures, expansion of offshore oil and gas drilling, and require reductions of greenhouse gases.

Health care: Mandatory coverage for children, no mandate for adults. Employers would be required to share costs of insuring workers. Coverage similar the federal employees' plan would be available. Favors abortion rights.

Refuses to accept money from federal lobbyists but accepts money from state lobbyists.

Personal: Married, two children

Running mate: Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden

Where they stand



McCain: Opposes abortion rights. Voted for abortion restrictions permissible under Roe v. Wade. Now would seek to overturn that guarantee of abortion rights. Would not seek constitutional amendment to ban abortion.

Obama: Favors abortion rights.


McCain: Favors unspecified boost in U.S. forces.

Obama: Would add about 7,000 troops to the U.S. force of 36,000, bringing the reinforcements from Iraq. Has threatened unilateral attack on high-value terrorist targets in Pakistan as they become exposed, "if Pakistan cannot or will not act" against them.


McCain: The co-author of McCain-Feingold campaign finance law is running his general campaign with public money and within its spending limits. He applied for federal matching funds for primaries but later turned them down so he could spend more than the limits. Federal Election Commission belatedly approved his decision to bypass the primary funds, but rejected McCain's claim that he needed no such approval. He raised more than $160 million before having to stop to accept the $84 million in public money for the fall. McCain accepted primary campaign contributions from lobbyists.

Obama: He is raising private money for the general election, despite his proposal last year to accept public financing and its spending limits if the GOP nominee did, too. Obama refuses to accept money from federal lobbyists and has instructed the Democratic National Committee to do the same for its joint victory fund. Accepts money from state lobbyists and from family members of federal lobbyists.


McCain: He is not proposing a federal voucher program that would provide public money for private school tuition, in contrast to his proposed $5 billion voucher plan in 2000. Only proposes expansion of District of Columbia's voucher program. Sees No Child Left Behind Law as vehicle for increasing opportunities for parents to choose schools. More money for community college education.

Obama: $18 billion plan would encourage, but not mandate, universal pre-kindergarten. Teacher pay raises tied to, although not based solely on, test scores. Overhaul No Child Left Behind Law to better measure student progress, make more room for music and art and be less punitive toward failing schools. Tax credit of up to $4,000 of college costs for students who perform community service. Would partly pay for plan by ending corporate tax deductions for CEO pay. Has backed away from

proposal to save money by delaying NASA's moon and Mars missions.


McCain: Favors increased offshore drilling and building 45 nuclear power reactors by 2030. Opposes drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Mandatory reductions of greenhouse gases by 60 percent by 2050, using a market-based cap-and-trade system that would increase energy costs. Supports $2 billion program to develop carbon capture and other clean coal research. $5,000 tax credit for the purchase of zero carbon emission cars; $300 million prize for improved batteries for hybrid vehicles. Led Senate effort to cap greenhouse gas emissions.

Obama: Ten-year, $150 billion fund for biofuels, wind, solar, plug-in hybrids, clean-coal technology and other "climate-friendly" measures. Mandatory reductions of greenhouse gases by 80 percent by 2050, using a market-based, cap-and-trade system that would increase energy costs. Increase federal fuel economy requirements from 35 mpg to 40 mpg. Now would consider limited expansion of offshore oil and gas drilling. Opposes drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Proposes windfall-profits tax on largest oil companies to pay for energy rebate of up to $1,000. Expand federal requirements for ethanol with increase coming from non-corn sources. $7,000 tax credit for the purchase of advanced-technology vehicles.


McCain: $300 billion plan for the government to buy bad mortgages and renegotiate them at a reduced price. One-year suspension of requirements that people age 70-1/2 begin cashing in retirement accounts. Lobbied fellow lawmakers to support $700 billion rescue plan. Eliminate taxes on unemployment benefits, guarantee 100 percent of savings for six months, lower the tax rate on retirement funds to 10 percent on the first $50,000 withdrawn. Cut the tax rate on capital gains by half for two years.

Obama: Two-year plan offering $3,000 tax credit to businesses for each new job created and enabling people to withdraw up to 15 percent of their retirement money, to a maximum of $10,000, without penalty, except for the usual taxes. Temporarily extend an expiring tax lets for small businesses, and sweeten small-business loans at a cost of about $5 billion. Now favors mandatory 90-day freeze on some foreclosures. Lobbied fellow lawmakers to support $700 billion rescue plan. Extend jobless benefits, offer tax credit covering 10 percent of annual mortgage-interest payments for "struggling homeowners."


McCain: Opposes constitutional amendment to ban it. Says same-sex couples should be allowed to enter into legal agreements for insurance and similar benefits, and states should decide about marriage. Supports the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal recognition of same-sex marriages and gives states the right to refuse to recognize such marriages.

Obama: Opposes constitutional amendment to ban it. Supports civil unions, says states should decide about marriage. Switched positions in 2004 and now supports repeal of Defense of Marriage Act.


McCain: $2,500 refundable tax credit for individuals, $5,000 for families, to make health insurance more affordable. No mandate for universal coverage. Would no longer shield from income taxes those payments that businesses and their workers make toward employer-sponsored health insurance. Tax Policy Center estimates overall plan's cost at $1.3 trillion over 10 years.

Obama: Mandatory coverage for children, no mandate for adults. Aim for universal coverage by requiring larger employers to share costs of insuring workers and by offering coverage similar to that in plan for federal employees. Proposes spending $50 billion on information technology over five years to reduce health care costs over time. Tax Policy Center estimates overall plan's cost at $1.6 trillion over 10 years.


McCain: Sponsored 2006 bill that would have allowed illegal immigrants to stay in the U.S., work and apply to become legal residents after learning English, paying fines and back taxes and clearing a background check. Now says he would secure the border first. Supports border fence.

Obama: Voted for 2006 bill offering legal status to illegal immigrants subject to conditions, including English proficiency and payment of back taxes and fines. Voted for border fence.


McCain: Favors tougher sanctions, opposes direct high-level talks with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Obama: Initially said he would meet Ahmadinejad without preconditions, now says he's not sure. "Ahmadinejad is the right person to meet with right now." But says direct diplomacy with Iranian leaders would give U.S. more credibility to press for tougher international sanctions. Says he would intensify diplomatic pressure on Tehran before Israel feels the need to take unilateral military action against Iranian nuclear facilities.


McCain: Opposes scheduling troop withdrawal, saying latest strategy is succeeding. Supported decision to go to war, but was early critic of the manner in which it was prosecuted. Was key backer of the troop increase. Willing to have permanent U.S. peacekeeping forces in Iraq.

Obama: Spoke against war at start, opposed troop increase. Voted against one major military spending bill in May 2007; otherwise voted in favor of money to support the war. Says his plan would complete withdrawal of combat troops in 16 months. Initially had said a timetable for completing withdrawal would be irresponsible without knowing what facts he'd face in office.


McCain: "Nothing's off the table" when it comes to saving Social Security.

Obama: Raise payroll tax on wealthiest by applying it to portion of income over $250,000. Now, payroll tax is applied to income up to $102,000. Rules out raising the retirement age.


McCain: Extend President Bush's tax cuts and cut corporate rate to 25 percent. Pledged not to raise taxes, then equivocated, saying nothing can be ruled out in negotiating to keep Social Security solvent. Twice opposed Bush's tax cuts, at first because he said they were tilted to the wealthy, then because of unknown costs of Iraq war. Nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates tax break of $325 for the middle 20 percent of taxpayers - those making $37,600 to $66,400.

Obama: Raise income taxes on families making over $250,000 and individuals making over $200,000. Raise corporate taxes. $80 billion in tax breaks mainly for poor workers and elderly. Eliminate tax-filing requirement for older workers making under $50,000. . Nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates tax break of $1,118 for the middle 20 percent of taxpayers - those making $37,600 to $66,400.


CUTLINE: (1) Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, speaks to her supporters at a rally at Shippensburg (Pa.) University. (2) Democratic vice presidential candidate, Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., greets supporters during a campaign rally at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C. (3) Chuck Baldwin (4) Bob Barr (5) John McCain (6) Cynthia McKinney (7) Ralph Nader (8) Barack Obama

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Title Annotation:VOTERS GUIDE
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Nov 2, 2008
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