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2008 Presidential Contenders: Where They Stand, What They’re (Not) Saying, and How They’re Framing the Issues
Unformatted Document Text:  because he feels that resurgent Taliban, Al Qaeda, warlords, and drug traffickers may soon challenge the democratic regime in Afghanistan, , which in his opinion requires an infusion of military and economic assistance. In summary, pacifism/neutrality is “out” among the leading contenders. McCain, Clinton and Obama all favored increased spending on defense and homeland security. In fact, only Paul and Kucinich opposed an increase, while Bill Richardson was neutral. There are some differences, whereby Republicans focused on increases for defense and Democrats on beefing up homeland security. The issue of terrorism is highly salient to candidates, as all have a category of “Terrorism and Foreign Policy” highlighted at least once on their campaign websites. Surprisingly, the campaign website of John Edwards mentioned the most issues in the category of “Terrorism and Foreign Policy,” with nine issues listed. The next most frequent was Mitt Romney’s campaign website and the campaign websites for Bill Richardson and Joe Biden with four issues mentioned by each. The campaign websites for Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee both listed three issues categorized under “Terrorism and Foreign Policy.” If we break down how candidates are thinking about this issue, they list a very diverse group of subcategories, including: US relations with Iran, civil liberties domestically and internationally, national defense/homeland security, global US relations, global poverty, radical Islamists, US relations with Latin America, nuclear weapons and weapon proliferation, Darfur, terrorism/War on Terror, military strategy, Israel, and Cuba. Immigration o I support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the U.S. o I believe in strictly enforcing current immigration laws. Immigration is a hot issue in this election, especially for Republican candidates. Democrats all supported a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants residing in the U.S. Among Republicans, only McCain supported this path, with Paul, Romney and Huckabee in disagreement. On the question of enforcement, candidates of all stripes are clambering over each other to call for stricter enforcement of current immigration laws. Kucinich was the sole exception because, although he has previously voted to increase funds to hire more border agents, he has also voiced support for “sanctuary cities”. Obama and Clinton both express support for tightening border security, but they seek to reform the immigration laws. Strictly enforcing current immigration laws is rated as important for the four groups of voters found in our cluster analysis (see Tables 2 and 3). Their firm stances will win votes of moderate liberals and all conservatives. Only liberals are neutral on this issue. Not surprisingly, only the campaign websites for Dennis Kucinich and John Edwards omitted “immigration” as an issue. Conservatives can use this issue to round up their constituents. Mike Huckabee offered his base a powerful new frame to summarize the immigration question, “The Secure America Plan”. 8

Authors: Soule, Suzanne., Nairne, Jennifer. and Iyer, Ravi.
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because he feels that resurgent Taliban, Al Qaeda, warlords, and drug traffickers may soon
challenge the democratic regime in Afghanistan, , which in his opinion requires an infusion of
military and economic assistance. In summary, pacifism/neutrality is “out” among the leading
contenders.
McCain, Clinton and Obama all favored increased spending on defense and homeland security.
In fact, only Paul and Kucinich opposed an increase, while Bill Richardson was neutral. There
are some differences, whereby Republicans focused on increases for defense and Democrats on
beefing up homeland security.
The issue of terrorism is highly salient to candidates, as all have a category of “Terrorism and
Foreign Policy” highlighted at least once on their campaign websites. Surprisingly, the campaign
website of John Edwards mentioned the most issues in the category of “Terrorism and Foreign
Policy,” with nine issues listed. The next most frequent was Mitt Romney’s campaign website
and the campaign websites for Bill Richardson and Joe Biden with four issues mentioned by
each. The campaign websites for Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee both listed three issues
categorized under “Terrorism and Foreign Policy.” If we break down how candidates are
thinking about this issue, they list a very diverse group of subcategories, including: US relations
with Iran, civil liberties domestically and internationally, national defense/homeland security,
global US relations, global poverty, radical Islamists, US relations with Latin America, nuclear
weapons and weapon proliferation, Darfur, terrorism/War on Terror, military strategy, Israel, and
Cuba.
Immigration
o
I support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the U.S.
o
I believe in strictly enforcing current immigration laws.
Immigration is a hot issue in this election, especially for Republican candidates. Democrats all
supported a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants residing in the U.S. Among Republicans,
only McCain supported this path, with Paul, Romney and Huckabee in disagreement. On the
question of enforcement, candidates of all stripes are clambering over each other to call for
stricter enforcement of current immigration laws. Kucinich was the sole exception because,
although he has previously voted to increase funds to hire more border agents, he has also voiced
support for “sanctuary cities”. Obama and Clinton both express support for tightening border
security, but they seek to reform the immigration laws. Strictly enforcing current immigration
laws is rated as important for the four groups of voters found in our cluster analysis (see Tables 2
and 3). Their firm stances will win votes of moderate liberals and all conservatives. Only liberals
are neutral on this issue.
Not surprisingly, only the campaign websites for Dennis Kucinich and John Edwards omitted
“immigration” as an issue. Conservatives can use this issue to round up their constituents. Mike
Huckabee offered his base a powerful new frame to summarize the immigration question, “The
Secure America Plan”.
8


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