#DemDebate: Meet your players
All information written by The Times-Delphic’s political columnist John Wingert
Perhaps no other candidate in the entire 2016 field is as well-known as Hillary Clinton. Her experiences as first lady, senator from New York and Secretary of State were seen as her main selling points to the American people going into the 2016 race, but these experiences also seem to make her a member of the “establishment” that voters seem to have rebelled against in favor of candidates like Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina and, debatably, Bernie Sanders.
That being said, Clinton remains the strong frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, especially after Vice President Joe Biden declined to run for President. The withdrawal of Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb, who were presenting challenges for the center-left electorate, also did not hurt her candidacy.
So far, in the 2016 Democratic nomination process, Bernie Sanders has presented the key challenge to Hillary Clinton. Although Joe Biden polled well before deciding not to run, Sanders was for a time able to capture the plurality of Democratic support in Iowa and New Hampshire.
However, after Clinton’s exemplary debate performance, his refusal to attack her on her e-mail scandal and Clinton’s widely applauded performance in front of the Benghazi Select Committee, Sanders has seen his polling advantage wane almost everywhere. That being said, Sanders is stridently focused on the issues, particularly income and power inequalities.
The former governor of Maryland and former mayor of Baltimore, Martin O’Malley has languished in poor poll numbers for months. Most of his time and energy has been spent in Iowa to try and make an impression that will win him the first-in-the-nation caucus and provide him the show of viability he will need to proceed to the nomination.
Besides campaigning in Iowa, O’Malley has put forward several detailed policy proposals to prove his policy chops for the federal level and has showcased his performance abilities as a front man for an Irish rock band.
Discover Democratic candidates’ positions
CLINTON: In her 2016 campaign, Clinton has promised to reduce discriminatory practices against non-heterosexual or gender-nonconforming individuals in the workplace and abroad. As early as 1999, Clinton voiced vociferous support for the Defense of Marriage Act which defined marriage as a union of one man and one woman. In 2000, Hillary Clinton declared, “Marriage has got historic, religious, and moral content that goes back to the beginning of time, and I think a marriage is as marriage has always been, between a man and a woman.”
SANDERS: Senator Sanders is a co-sponsor of the Equality Act, which would prohibit discrimination of LGBT individuals in the workplace. He also wants to ensure the health programs of the Department of Health and Human Services are adequately prepared to handle the needs of transgender individuals. Discrimination and bias can also be reduced, he claims, with new programs aimed at police departments, schools and banking. In 1993, Sanders voted against the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and Sanders voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.
O’MALLEY: Martin O’Malley has supported equality of same-sex marriages for several years. In 2010, he blocked an amendment to prevent same-sex marriage in Maryland, and then in 2012 supported legislation allowing same-sex marriage in his state. During his 2006 gubernatorial campaign, O’Malley would not go so far as supporting same-sex marriage, but instead, he only supported civil unions at the time.
CLINTON: On the issue of college education costs, Clinton has suggested decreasing the costs, but to do this she proposes several things. Some of her suggestions include cutting interest rates on federal student loans and expanding federal work study programs, but her ultimate goal is landing on a solution that would allow students not to borrow to pay for public colleges.
SANDERS: When it comes to the cost of college education, Sanders wants more intervention to make it affordable. Like Clinton, Sanders wants to expand work-study programs and refinance student loans to lower rates, but he also wants to make public colleges and universities 100 percent tuition-free.
O’MALLEY: O’Malley has proposed seriously cutting the cost of college tuition. O’Malley wants to refinance current student loans, fund higher education to reduce rises in tuition, increase work study programs and increase standards for universities to ensure students get jobs.
CLINTON: Hillary Clinton has proposed “a fair and just immigration system.” By her definition, this would mean supporting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act, which allows minors raised in the United States to continuing living here with their families. She also wants to strengthen “our borders and national security” while upholding “the rule of law.” Beyond sympathizing for “families who have enriched America for years,” Clinton has resisted going into more specific policy proposals.
SANDERS: When it comes to immigration, Sanders wants to bring 11 million undocumented immigrants into some sort of legal status. He also wants to avoid tying this to border fence proposals, which he says are unrealistic and ineffective. Like Clinton, Sanders supports the DREAM Act and wants to expand the premise beyond Obama’s DREAM Act executive order into Congressional legislation.
O’MALLEY: Governor O’Malley has spoken repeatedly about passing a version of the DREAM Act in Maryland and insists he would expand those programs across the United States by providing deferment to parents of U.S. citizens and lawful residents. O’Malley wants to try to naturalize more undocumented immigrants and expand healthcare programs for them.
CLINTON: Having experience as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton was thought to proceed to 2016 with the strongest foreign policy experience. But her vote for the Iraq War, past support for intervention in Libya and current support for enforcing a no-fly zone over Syria put her on the more hawkish end of the Democratic Party spectrum.
SANDERS: On foreign policy, Sanders has often taken the position of “less is more.” He has voiced concerns over the size of the military-industrial complex and wants to make cuts to the defense budget. Sanders also supports the Iran Deal as the best available option to reduce the risk of rogue nuclear weapons, but this position is part of Sanders’ larger approach to foreign policy.
O’MALLEY: O’Malley has defended the Trans-Pacific Partnership, arguing that it allows the U.S. leverage in guiding other countries to a progressive agenda. Although O’Malley has dabbled in fewer specifics than other candidates, he has not removed the possibility of military action against the Islamic State and has promised to strengthen U.S. cybersecurity.
CLINTON: Gun control has been one of few issues about which Hillary Clinton has been able to lean further left than Bernie Sanders. She wants comprehensive background checks on gun purchases, toughening loopholes in gun registration and gun show sales and restricting the ability to supply guns covertly to those who would have their background check denied. She argues that these measures, in tandem with assault weapons bans, will reduce rates of gun violence and mass shootings in the United States.
SANDERS: Sanders argues that gun control differs in impact from urban and rural areas. He voted for the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which does not make gun sellers or manufacturers liable for how their guns are used. Sanders says his home state of Vermont does not suffer the same problems of mass shootings and urban gun violence that much of the rest of the country does and instead relies upon rural hunting traditions.
O’MALLEY: O’Malley has long emphasized his ability to pass comprehensive gun control legislation in Maryland while respecting the hunting traditions of rural areas. O’Malley wants to strengthen background checks for every gun purchase and also introduce regulations on areas that might not otherwise be included like Internet loopholes, fingerprinting gun owners and establishing a national firearms registry.