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Republican candidates on the issues

By Calvin Woodward

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Nov. 7 2011 2:01 a.m. MST

Abortion: Says president should only nominate anti-abortion judges, "the Constitution contains no right to take the life of unborn children," and he would support amending the Constitution to ban the procedure. Took contradictory positions, saying there should be "abortion under no circumstances" yet it is "not the government's role" to decide the question but rather a decision for women and families to make.

Debt: Opposed deal to raise debt ceiling and avoid default. Favors unspecified spending cuts to balance federal budget.

Economy: Proposal for 9 percent tax on income, business and sales is centerpiece of economic platform. Reduce regulations. "Ultimately, the free market, aided in part by the watchful eyes of investors and consumers, will regulate itself." Supported Wall Street bailout, says it was executed poorly.

Education: "Unbundle education from the federal government down to the local level," expand charter schools and school choice.

Energy: "Responsibly" relax regulations on energy industries. Policy should be "drill here, drill now." End restrictions on exploiting Western shale oil deposits. Opposes ethanol subsidies.

Environment: EPA has gone "wild with abuse." The science establishing the existence of global warming is "poppycock." Says climate change poses no real threat.

Gay Marriage: Says traditional marriage should be protected in federal law and no longer believes the question can be left to each state.

Health Care: Repeal Obama's health care law. Expand tax-advantaged medical savings accounts. Control medical malpractice lawsuits in hopes of lowering costs in health care system. Set up state or federal insurance pools for people shut out of insurance because of pre-existing illness.

Immigration: Secure the border with "whatever means necessary" and "empower the states" to deal with the issue. "We can have high fences and wide open doors, all at the same time."

Social Security: Give younger workers the option of diverting Social Security taxes to private retirement accounts. Keep Social Security intact for older workers. Ultimately "wean people off the current system," pare down federal entitlements and leave the needy to be helped by states, cities, charities and businesses.

Taxes: Replace the federal tax code — with its multiple levels of income, investment, Social Security and investment taxes — with 9 percent tax income, business and sales taxes. Exempt people at or below the poverty level from income tax; reduce or eliminate business tax in certain poor neighborhoods. Keep income tax deduction for charitable giving.

Terrorism: Said he would not be comfortable nominating Muslims to the Cabinet or the courts out of concern they will try to force their faith on public policy and the law.

Wars: No defense cuts except wasteful spending. Opposed intervention in Libya. "I want to be out of Afghanistan and all war-torn countries as much as the next person. But I am not going to propose a half-baked plan based on half the information I would need to make the right decision, just to pretend I know everything."

GINGRICH:

Abortion: Signed anti-abortion pledge. "Principles to protect life" platform calls for conservative judges and no subsidies for abortion but not for constitutional abortion ban.

Debt: As House speaker in mid-1990s, engineered passage of a seven-year balanced-budget plan. It was vetoed President Bill Clinton but helped form a bipartisan balanced budget two years later. Supports constitutional balanced budget amendment. Said that without a balanced budget, the U.S. had no choice but to raise its debt limit in the deal that avoided a default.

Economy: Repeal the 2010 financial industry and consumer protection regulations that followed the Wall Street meltdown, and repeal the 2002 regulations enacted in response to the Enron and other corporate and accounting scandals. Restrict the Fed's power to set interest rates artificially low. Make work training a condition of unemployment insurance and have states run it.

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