The nitty-gritty: Who thinks what and everything else you need to know before the Florida primaries

By Mackenzie Kees
Opinions Editor

The 2016 race for the presidency is well under way in the United States, and so far it has been wrought with mudslinging, half-truths and outright lies, and even has devolved further into thinly-veiled allegations and petty name-calling. Instead of thoroughly discussing the issues facing America today, the debates often entail several candidates talking at the same time with each one determined to be the loudest.

The Florida primaries are this Tuesday, March 15, and many voters will be forced to cast their ballot without truly understanding what each candidate wants for the future of America. The voters are not to blame for this miscarriage of justice, but nevertheless they are the ones who will suffer the consequences of it.

The Voyager has created this guide for you to study each candidate and his or her stance on the issues of utmost importance before you cast a vote this Tuesday. Deciding what issues are essential to the running of this country is a daunting task in itself, because in one way or another they are all important, but it is imperative that a few be chosen to concentrate on. The problems facing the world today are too numerous to hope that a single candidate will agree with everyone’s opinions for each issue.

Once the key issues have been decided upon, it is time to research what the candidates think about each one. This, too, can be daunting, because, as the old saying goes, “all politicians lie,” and it can be hard for voters to determine when a candidate actually is lying. Fortunately, in this modern age, we have the Internet, where information can be accessed effortlessly, and several organizations exist to provide citizens with information.

If winning a Pulitzer price is any indication of merit, PolitiFact is one such organization that can be trusted. PolitiFact is a division of the newspaper Tampa Bay Times, a self-described “independent fact-checking journalism website aimed at bringing you the truth in politics.” All the information provided lists sources to validate its authenticity.

On The Issues is a nonpartisan website also dedicated to providing “information for voters in the Presidential election, so that votes can be based on issues rather than on personalities and popularity,” according to its mission statement. The staff conducts research using documents such as debate transcripts, voting records, statements to the media and citations from books authored by the candidate in order to formulate their findings.

The research cited in this article was traced back to the original sources for all of the information contained here. References are provided in the conclusion for those who wish to do their own digging. This article has attempted to simplify the material on each candidate, with the goal of making your voting experience easier by proving accurate information on each candidate.

THE REPUBLICANS

trumpDonald Trump, 69, is a real estate developer and businessman well known for his television personality and superb entrepreneurial skills. Unlike the other candidates, Trump lacks a background in government affairs, leading some to call him a “breath of fresh air” from the usual contenders who are constantly ingrained in Washington politics. However, this notable lack of experience with the inner workings of the government has some claiming that Trump is inept to deal with most of the traditional duties performed by the president.

As shown in the above graphic, Trump currently leads in the polls with 458 delegates (as of March 11), leaving him 779 delegates away from the Republican nomination for president. Despite his apparent success, PolitiFact has found that most of the statements made by Trump were either “false” or “pants on fire” false, which is their way of saying a totally invented fabrication. For the “true” declarations made by Trump, a dismal 1 percent of the judged statements fall under this category. So what does Trump actually think about the issues?

ABORTION: “The biggest problem I have with Planned Parenthood is the abortion situation. I mean it’s like an abortion factory, frankly, and you can’t have it and you shouldn’t be funding it. It shouldn’t be funded by the government.”— Aug. 11, 2015, in an interview with CNN.

HEALTH CARE: “The one thing we have to do is repeal and replace ObamaCare. It is a disaster. People’s premiums are going up 35 percent, 45 percent, 55 percent. Their deductibles are so high nobody’s ever going to get to use it. So ObamaCare is turning out to be a bigger disaster than anybody thought.” — Oct. 25, 2015, in an interview with Martha Raddatz of “ABC This Week.”

IMMIGRATION: “We are a country of laws. We need borders. We will have a wall [on the Mexican border]. The wall will be built. The wall will be successful. And if you think walls don’t work, all you have to do is ask Israel. The wall works, believe me. Properly done. Believe me.”—  Nov. 10, 2015, in an interview with Fox Business.

 

ted cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, 45, has experience in Congress after accumulating several years of service in the U.S. Senate. Cruz is currently trailing behind Trump in the polls with 359 delegates of the total 1,237 required to win the Republican nomination. As seen in the graphic above, most of Cruz’s statements have been judged to be almost 60 percent false by PolitiFact. His numbers are an improvement on Trump’s results, but they still leave room for voters to question his sincerity.

FOREIGN POLICY: “What we need is a commander in chief that makes clear, if you join ISIS, if you wage jihad on America, then you are signing your death warrant. I introduced the Expatriate Terrorist Act that said if any American travels to the Middle East and joins ISIS, that he or she forfeits their citizenship so they don’t use a passport to come back and wage jihad on Americans.” —Aug. 16, 2015, in an interview with Fox News.

EDUCATION: “We need to repeal Common Core. We need to get the federal government out of the business of dictating educational standards. Education is far too important for it to be governed by unelected bureaucrats in Washington. It should be at the state level or even better at the local level. ”— at the Heritage Foundation’s Conservative Policy Summit in Washington, D.C., January 2015.

GUN CONTROL: “The right to self-defense is an essential component of the liberty we enjoy as Americans and is embodied in the Second Amendment. From successfully protecting law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment rights at the Supreme Court, to defeating legislation that sought to take away this right, I have always championed the right to keep and bear arms.” — statement on his official campaign website.

 

rubio

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, 44, is a practiced attorney, politician and junior senator from the state of Florida. Rubio has dabbled in many occupational fields over the years, such as teaching and founding a law firm, which has afforded him a different perspective than the other candidates. His solid background in all things politics comes from years of working his way up the latter in the House of Representatives and the Senate alike.

Most of Rubio’s statements are a mix between “mostly true,” “half true,” and “mostly false,” according to the results of PolitiFact’s findings, pictured in the graphic above. In comparison to his fellow Republican running mates, Rubio shows more balance between what he says and what he means. Out of the three Republican contenders, Rubio does the best to sticking to the truth, which is an admirable quality in a politician.

ABORTION: “There is no doubt that a woman has a right to her own body, has a right to make decisions about her own health and her own future. There’s no doubt. And then, there’s this other right. And that’s the right of a human being to live. And these rights come into conflict when it comes to this issue. And, so, you have to make a decision … But when asked to make a decision between two very hard circumstances, I’ve personally reached the conclusion if I’m going to err, I’m going to err on the side of life. I’ll support any legislation that reduces the number of abortions.” — Aug. 9, 2015, at a Meet The Press interview.

JOBS: “If I thought that raising the minimum wage was the best way to help people increase their pay, I would be all for it, but it isn’t. In the 20th century, it’s a disaster. If you raise the minimum wage, you’re going to make people more expensive than a machine. And that means all this automation that’s replacing jobs and people right now is only going to be accelerated. Here’s the best way to raise wages: Make America the best place in the world to start a business or expand an existing business.” —  Nov. 10, 2015, at a First Tier debate hosted by Fox Business.

GUN CONTROL: “My position on guns is pretty clear. I believe law-abiding people have a fundamental, constitutional right to bear arms. And I believe criminals and dangerous people should not have access to guns. There are laws that protect those two things — but many of these [additional] gun laws are ineffective. They don’t do those things. They either infringe on the rights of law-abiding people and do nothing to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. And I’m troubled this debate is about guns. It should be about violence. Violence is the problem, guns are what they’re using. We are missing a golden opportunity to have an open, honest and serious conversation about these horrific violent acts, because everyone’s focused on passing these laws that have proven ineffective.” — April 14, 2013, at an interview with CNN SOTU.

 

THE DEMOCRATS

clinton

Hillary Clinton, 68, is the former U.S. Secretary of State, a position she held for the first four years of the Obama administration. Clinton’s resume also includes a stint on the Senate, as well as eight years of holding the title of first lady. Her previous roles in the White House give her a level of expertise that her competitors lack. She knows what it takes to be president from watching her husband experience it, and she has felt the enormous amount of pressure it can cause. One thing to be certain about Clinton is that she knows exactly what she is walking into by becoming president. While the other candidates might have an idea of what all it entails, they still lack the actual experience of living through it as she did.

Clinton is currently leading in the polls with 760 of the 2,383 delegate votes needed to win the Democratic nomination. This figure does not include the superdelegates, where Clinton has a substantial lead, because their votes can still be changed.

In stark contrast to her Republican counterparts, most of Clinton’s statements have been judged as “true” or “mostly true” by PolitiFact. However, while Clinton’s statements may be true, that does not mean that the inferences she makes from them are always correct. The way one person interprets facts can vary from someone else; it all depends on the individual’s point of view and life experiences. Regardless, Clinton’s statements to the public can be considered relatively true and trustworthy.

ENVIRONMENT: “Today I am announcing a comprehensive strategy to modernize American energy infrastructure and forge a new partnership with Canada and Mexico to combat climate change across the continent, unleashing billions in investment, delivering reliable and affordable energy, protecting the health of our families and communities, and creating good-paying jobs and careers.” — Sept. 23, 2015, in a blog post entitled “Why I oppose Keystone XL.”

EDUCATION:  “[The Common Core] wasn’t politicized. It was to try to come up with a core of learning that we might expect students to achieve across our country, no matter what kind of school district they were in, no matter how poor their family was that there wouldn’t be two tiers of education. Everybody would be looking at what would be learned doing their best to achieve that.” — April 16, 2015, at her first official campaign event in Iowa, via C-SPAN.

DRUGS: “I think that we have the opportunity through the states that are pursuing recreational marijuana to find out a lot more than we know today. I do support the use of medical marijuana, and I think even there we need to do a lot more research so that we know exactly how we’re going to help people for whom medical marijuana provides relief. So, I think we’re just at the beginning, but I agree completely with the idea that we have got to stop imprisoning people who use marijuana. Therefore, we need more states, cities, and the federal government to begin to address this so that we don’t have this terrible result of a huge population in our prisons for nonviolent, low-level offenses that are primarily due to marijuana. ”— Oct. 13, 2015, at the CNN Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas.

 

sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont, 74, previously caucused with Democrats before actually joining the party in 2015. Sanders was the longest-serving independent in U.S. Congressional history before he switched parties.

Sanders has been a long-time defender of civil rights, from his early days as a political activist while attending the University of Chicago to his many careers after graduating college. Sanders’ political conquests include a mayorship, becoming a member of the House of Representatives, and eventually being elected to the U.S. Senate. Sanders is currently behind Clinton in the polls with 546 of the needed 2,383 delegate votes to win the Democratic nomination. This figure does not include the superdelegates, because their votes can still be changed, where Clinton has a substantial lead over Sanders. Like his fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton, most of Sanders’ statements have been judged to be “true,” “mostly true,” and “half true” by PolitiFact.

CIVIL RIGHTS: “Black lives matter. The African-American community knows that on any given day some innocent person like Sandra Bland can get into a car, and three days later she’s dead in jail. We need to combat institutional racism from top to bottom, and we need major reforms in a broken criminal justice system. I intend to make sure people have education and jobs rather than jail cells.” — Oct. 13, 2015, at the CNN Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas.

ECONOMY: “Millionaires and billionaires are pouring unbelievable sums of money into the political process in order to fund super PACs and to elect candidates who represent their interests, not the interests of working people. What this campaign is about is whether we can mobilize our people to take back our government from a handful of billionaires and create the vibrant democracy we know we can and should have. It is immoral and wrong that the top 1/10 of 1 percent in this country own almost 90 percent – almost — own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. That it is wrong, today, in a rigged economy, that 57 percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent.” — Oct. 13, 2015, at the CNN Democratic primaries in Las Vegas.

FOREIGN POLICY: “[Obama] is trying to defeat ISIS. He’s trying to get rid of this horrendous dictator, Assad. But at the same time, he doesn’t want our troops stuck on the ground. And I agree with that. But I am maybe a little bit more conservative on this than he is. I worry that once we get sucked into this, once some of our troops get killed and once maybe a plane gets shot down, that we send more in and more in. But I will say this. ISIS must be defeated primarily by the Muslim nations in that region. America can’t do it all. And we need an international coalition. Russia should be part of it — U.K., France, the entire world – supporting Muslim troops on the ground, fighting for the soul of Islam and defeating this terrible ISIS organization.” — Nov. 8, 2015, during an interview on “ABC This Week.”

 

The Florida primaries are approaching fast; only those who are registered as a Republican or Democrat (not Independent) may participate. This vote will determine the two main candidates who will be in the running for the presidency, so its importance cannot be denied.

For those who are unsure of which candidate they agree with, take the ISideWith quiz to see which candidate best reflects your beliefs.

The information provided in this article has been verified and fact-checked. Links to the various sites where this information can be found are listed below.

 

RESOURCES:

www.PolitiFact.com

www.OnTheIssues.org

Associated Press

The New York Times

www.ISideWith.com

www.buzzfeed.com/news