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THE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES FOR PRESIDENT

A look at where the 2012 Republican presidential candidates stand on a selection of key issues in Florida and nationwide.

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Newt Gingrich Age: 68. Born in Harrisburg, Pa., on June 17, 1943. Professional experience: History professor at West Georgia College, 1970-78; U.S. House of Representatives, 1979-99; House speaker, 1995-99; consultant, author, political pundit. Family: Wife Callista; has been married three times; two daughters from first marriage. Education: B.A. in history from Emory University in 1965; M.A. (1968) and Ph.D. (1971) in history from Tulane University. Religion: Catholic. Website: newt.org Twitter handle: @newtgingrich Ron Paul Age: 76. Born in Pittsburgh on Aug. 20, 1935. Professional experience: Medical doctor (obstetrics/gynecology), retired; U.S. representative of Texas' 14th District, 1976-77; 1979-85; 1997-present; Libertarian Party presidential nominee, 1988. Has announced he will not seek re-election to Congress. Family: Wife Carol, five children, including Rand Paul, elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010 from Kentucky. Education: B.A. from Gettysburg College in 1957; M.D. from Duke University School of Medicine in 1961. Religion: Protestant. Website: ronpaul2012.com Twitter handle: @RonPaul Mitt Romney Age: 64. Born March 12, 1947, in Detroit. Professional experience: Vice president at management consulting firm Bain & Co., 1978-1984; founded Bain Capital, a venture capital firm, 1984; unsuccessful campaign for U.S. Senate against Ted Kennedy, 1994; CEO of Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Olympics; Massachusetts governor, 2003-2007; unsuccessful campaign for president, 2008. Family: Wife Ann, five sons. Education: Brigham Young University, B.A., 1971; Harvard University, M.B.A., J.D., 1975. Religion: Mormon. Website: mittromney.com Twitter handle: @MittRomney Rick Santorum Age: 53. Born in Winchester, Va., May 10, 1958. Professional experience: Legislative staffer, Pennsylvania Senate, 1981-86; attorney; U.S. House of Representatives, 1991-1995; U.S. Senate, 1995-2007. Family: Wife Karen, children Elizabeth, John, Daniel, Sarah Maria, Peter, Patrick and Isabella. Education: B.A., Pennsylvania State University 1980; M.B.A., University of Pittsburgh 1981; J.D., Dickinson School of Law, 1986. Religion: Catholic. Website: ricksantorum.com Twitter handle: @ricksantorum
Abortion
Platform calls for conservative judges and no subsidies for abortion but not a constitutional abortion ban. Says federal government should have no authority either to legalize or ban abortion. Says Roe vs. Wade should be reversed by a future Supreme Court and states should decide their own abortion laws. Favors constitutional abortion ban and opposes abortion even in cases of rape.
Cuba
On a recent trip to Miami, he signed a letter vowing to pursue a strong policy against Cuba by not lifting sanctions until all political prisoners are free and re-establishing the 2004 stricter Bush travel rules. Only Republican to call for end to embargo against Cuba. "If we wouldn't have had this embargo for 40 years, (Fidel) Castro would have been gone a long time ago," he told reporters in Tallahassee last April. Supports embargo. Labeled Cuba "a rogue nation" along with Iran, North Korea and Venezuela in foreign policy statement by campaign. Supports the pro-democracy movement on the communist island.
Debt
As House speaker in 1990s, engineered passage of a seven-year balanced-budget plan. It was vetoed but helped form a bipartisan balanced budget later. Would eviscerate federal government, slashing nearly half its spending, shut five Cabinet-level agencies, end spending on existing conflicts and on foreign aid. Defended financial sector bailout, criticized GM and Chrysler bailout. Cap federal spending at 20 percent of GDP. Freeze social and military spending for five years to cut $5 trillion from federal budgets.
Economy
Repeal the financial industry regulations that followed the Wall Street meltdown. Restrict the Fed's power to set interest rates artificially low. Return to the gold standard, eliminate the Federal Reserve, eliminate most federal regulations. Lower taxes, less regulation, balanced budget, more trade deals to spur growth. Replace jobless benefits with unemployment savings accounts. Repeal new financial industry regulations. Eliminate corporate taxes for manufacturers, drill for more oil and gas, and slash regulations.
Education
Shrink Education Department. But supported Obama administration's $4 billion Race to the Top grant competition for states. Abolish the Education Department and end the federal role in education. Supported No Child Left Behind law. Once favored shutting Education Department, later saw its value in "holding down the interests of the teachers unions." Voted for No Child Left Behind law, now regrets vote. Wants "significantly" smaller Education Department.
Energy
Let oil and natural gas industries drill offshore reserves now blocked from development, end restrictions on Western oil shale development. Remove restrictions on drilling, coal and nuclear power, eliminate gasoline tax, provide tax credits for alternative fuel technology. Supports drilling in the gulf, the outer continental shelves, Western lands, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and offshore Alaska; and exploitation of shale oil deposits. Favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, scaling back "oppressive regulation" hindering drilling elsewhere, and eliminating energy subsidies in four years.
Environment
Convert EPA into "environmental solutions agency" devoted to research and "more energy, more jobs and a better environment simultaneously." Once backed tougher environmental regulation. Previously said human activity "probably does" contribute to global warming; now calls such science a "hoax." Says emission standards should be set by states or regions. Acknowledged that humans contribute to global warming, but later said "we don't know what's causing climate change." Cap and trade would "rocket energy prices." The science establishing human activity as a likely contributor to global warming is "patently absurd" and "junk science."
Gay marriage
If the Defense of Marriage Act fails, "you have no choice except a constitutional amendment" to ban gay marriage. Decisions on legalizing or prohibiting gay marriage should be left to states. Favors constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, says policy should be set federally, not by states. Supports constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, not leaving decision to states. "We can't have 50 marriage laws."
Health care (All would seek repeal of federal health care law.)
Prohibit insurers from canceling or charging hefty increases to insurance holders who get sick. Offer "generous" tax credit to help buy insurance. Previously supported mandatory coverage. Opposes compulsory insurance and all federal subsidies for coverage. Opposes federal mandate to obtain coverage; introduced mandate in Massachusetts. Proposes "generous" subsidies to help future retirees buy private insurance instead of going on Medicare. Would seek to starve Obama's health care law of money needed to implement it. Supported Bush administration's prescription drug program for the elderly, now regrets doing so.
Immigration
In contrast to most rivals, supports option of giving legal status to illegal immigrants who have sunk roots in the U.S. and lived otherwise lawfully. Supports path to citizenship for illegal immigrants' children who perform U.S. military service. Make English the official language. Divert more Homeland Security assets to Mexican border. Do "whatever it takes" to secure the border, end right to citizenship of U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants, no social services for illegal immigrants, aggressive deportation. Would veto legislation that seeks to award legal status to some young illegal immigrants who attend college or serve in the armed forces. Favors complete U.S.-Mexico border fence, opposes education benefits to illegal immigrants. Supports complete border fence, opposes education benefits to illegal immigrants.
Israel
Supports Israel. Would move U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Called Palestinians "invented" people. To reporters in Tallahassee last April, Paul said: "Israel has over 300 nuclear weapons. If we just leave them alone they'd just take care of themselves." Republican Jewish Coalition did not invite him to recent candidates forum. Said President Obama had "chastened" Israel in its pursuit of an appeasement strategy in the Middle East. Would make Israel first country he would visit as president. Pro-Israel. He vows to "stand with Israel as an ally and in any efforts Israel may take to defend themselves from Iranian aggression."
Social Security
Give younger workers the option of diverting Social Security taxes to private retirement accounts. Says younger workers should be able to opt out of Social Security taxes and retirement benefits; benefits for today's retirees should be protected. Starting with workers now under 55, raise age to qualify for full benefits, and limit inflation increases for wealthier beneficiaries. Protect status quo for people 55 and older. Proposes immediate steps to lower benefits for wealthier retirees, raise the age to qualify for full benefits and restrict inflation increases in benefits, both for current and future retirees. Supports option of private retirement accounts.
Taxes (All support eliminating the estate tax and keeping Bush-era tax cuts.)
Choice of filing under current system or paying a 15 percent tax, preserving mortgage interest and charitable deductions. Cut corporate tax to 12.5 percent. Eliminate the federal income tax and the IRS, and defund close to half the government. No one with adjusted gross income under $200,000 should be taxed on interest, dividends or capital gains. Cut corporate tax rate to 25 percent. Triple the personal exemption for dependent children, reduce the number of tax brackets to two - 10 percent and 28 percent - exempt domestic manufacturers from the corporate tax and halve the top rate for other business.
War
Supported Iraq war and opposed early withdrawal. Said U.S. forces should not have been used in Libya campaign, after he had called for such intervention. Opposes "precipitous" pullout from Afghanistan. Bring most or all troops home from foreign posts "as quick as the ships could get there." Opposed U.S. intervention in Libya. Cut Pentagon budget. Has not specified the troop numbers behind pledge to ensure the "force level necessary to secure our gains and complete our mission successfully" in Afghanistan. Says he would order bombing of Iran's nuclear facilities unless they were opened for international arms inspectors. Proposes freezing defense spending for five years.
Sources: Associated Press, Miami Herald, Tampa Bay Times, New York Times, official Republican presidential campaign websites

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The Road Ahead: Key election dates

All contests are primaries unless marked; delegates in parentheses.

Tuesday: Florida (50)

Feb. 4: Maine caucuses (24); Nevada caucuses (28).

Feb. 7: Colorado caucuses (36); Minnesota caucuses (40).

Feb. 28: Arizona (29); Michigan (30).

March 3: Washington caucuses (43).

March 6 (Super Tuesday): Alaska caucuses (27); Georgia (76); Idaho caucuses (32); Massachusetts (41); North Dakota caucuses (28); Ohio (66); Oklahoma (43); Tennessee (58); Vermont (17); Virginia (49); Wyoming caucuses (29).

March 10: Guam caucuses (9); Kansas caucuses (40); Virgin Islands caucuses (9).

March 13: Alabama (50); American Samoa caucuses (9); Hawaii caucuses (20); Mississippi (40).

March 17: Missouri caucuses (52).

March 18: Puerto Rico caucuses (23).

March 20: Illinois (69).

March 24: Louisiana (46).

April 3: District of Columbia (19); Maryland (37); Texas (155); Wisconsin (42).

April 24: Connecticut (28); Delaware (17); New York (95); Pennsylvania (72); Rhode Island (19).

May 8: Indiana (46); North Carolina (55); West Virginia (31).

May 15: Nebraska (35); Oregon (28).

May 22: Arkansas (36); Kentucky (45).

June 5: California (172); Montana (26); New Jersey (50); New Mexico (23); South Dakota (28).

June 26: Utah (40).

Beyond the presidential primaries

Aug. 14: Florida primary (Senate, all 160 seats in Legislature, local elections).

Aug. 27-30: Republican National Convention at Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa.

Sept. 3-6: Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C.

Nov. 6: General election.

Delegate count

(after Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina)

Gingrich 23

Romney 19

Santorum 13

Paul 3

Huntsman 2

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Delegates at stake in Florida: 50 to the winner

Delegates needed for nomination: 1,144

Source: New York Times

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