Accessibility links

Guide to 2016 Campaign: The Republicans


Adam Gabbatt of The Guardian newspaper holds images of possible Republican candidate during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Adam Gabbatt of The Guardian newspaper holds images of possible Republican candidate during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Editor's Note: This is part of a series of reports from VOA Learning English to guide you through the U.S. presidential campaign in 2016. This report centers on the candidates for the Republican nomination. We tell you who they are and what their campaigns are saying. You can also learn more about the candidates with links to their campaign websites.

Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush is the former governor of Florida. He is also the son of former president George H.W. Bush and the brother of former president George W. Bush. He is considered one of the leaders of the crowded Republican field. His politics are conservative.

Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush

Mr. Bush has a well-organized campaign and is raising large amounts of money. His famous family helps him by attracting money and supporters. But the Bush name hurts him, too. Some people say they are tired of people named Bush in the White House.

Jeb Bush is the establishment candidate. In other words, party officials support him over the other candidates. That means he could have a good chance of winning the Republican nomination. However, the grassroots – or, common party members and activists – often do not support the establishment candidate.

Jeb Bush supports immigration reform, even though many Republicans do not agree with him on that issue. He speaks Spanish fluently.

He announced his candidacy on June 15, 2015.

Ben Carson

Dr. Ben Carson is the former head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. The retired doctor is an expert at surgically separating babies who are born joined together.

Ben Carson

Ben Carson

Dr. Carson has a strong personal story. He grew up in poverty and rose to be a top children’s neurosurgeon. He became well known among political conservatives for his criticism of President Obama and the “Obamacare” national health care plan.

He has never run for political office before, a fact that appeals to some voters.

He wants major tax reform and to end Obamacare. Some of his statements, such as comparing ISIS to the U.S. Founding Fathers, have drawn criticism.

He announced his candidacy on May 4, 2015.

Chris Christie

The Republican governor of New Jersey also wants to be president. Chris Christie is known for being big, in physical size and personality. He is also considered combative.

Chris Christie

Chris Christie

Governor Christie was considered a front-runner for the Republican nomination until the scandal known as “Bridgegate.” His administration took action to punish a local mayor for political reasons. The employees unnecessarily ordered the closing of a busy bridge in the mayor’s area. It delayed traffic severely and angered many.

Mr. Christie’s approval numbers dropped considerably after the public learned about the wrongdoing. He denied involvement.

The Republican Party also criticized Mr. Christie for working with President Obama on Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts. The severe storm caused major damage along the New Jersey coast in 2012.

Mr. Christie’s supporters are moderates generally.

He announced he is running on June 30th 2015.

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz is a senator from Texas. He won his senate seat in 2012 by beating the favored Republican candidate.

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz

He was the first of the major party candidates to announce his run for the White House. He did so at Virginia’s Liberty University, a conservative Christian university.

He is strongly conservative on the issues. Mr. Cruz appeals to voters for his outspoken ideas and his willingness to go against his own party. But going against his party can also hurt him because he might not get the support of mainstream Republicans.

Mr. Cruz says two of his main goals are to end President Obama’s national health care plan and to close the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS is responsible for taxing Americans based on their incomes and many other considerations. Mr. Cruz supports taxing all Americans the same rate.

He announced his candidacy on March 23, 2015.

Carly Fiorina

Carly Fiorina is the only Republican woman so far running for president. She rose from being a secretary in a small business to being the CEO of a computer technology company. She was the head of Hewlett-Packard but left in 2005 after a struggle.

Carly Fiorina

Carly Fiorina

Ms. Fiorina ran against Senator Barbara Boxer for the California senate seat in 2010 and lost. She has never held political office.

Her appeal is mostly to Republican business people.

Her continued criticism of Hillary Clinton has helped the Republican Party. Some think having a woman attack Ms. Clinton is better than having a man object to her and her policies.

Like most other Republican candidates, Ms. Fiorina opposes abortion rights. She also supports aggressive American military action abroad. However, she does support same-sex marriage.

She announced her candidacy on May 4, 2015.

Lindsey Graham

Lindsey Graham is a Republican senator from South Carolina and a military veteran. He is a close friend of Senator John McCain, who was the Republican presidential nominee in 2008 (and who lost to Barack Obama).

Lindsey Graham

Lindsey Graham

Mr. Graham and Mr. McCain are part of a small group of Republican senators who are very hawkish, or aggressive, on defense issues. One of Mr. Graham’s sayings is “security through strength.” He is more moderate on other issues.

Mr. Graham has started low in the polls. He is the only candidate so far who is not married. Mr. Graham has never sent an email.

He announced his candidacy on June 1, 2015.

Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee is an ordained preacher and a musician who plays bass. He is the former governor of the state of Arkansas and was a host on the television channel Fox News.

Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee

This campaign is his second run for the White House. He finished third in the Republican race in 2008, and he did not run in 2012.

His main support comes from social conservatives and evangelical Christians – Christians who follow the Bible closely. He says he wants to “defeat evil forces of radical Islam.”

Mr. Huckabee is also making an appeal to older, working-class Americans. And, as a hunter, Mr. Huckabee strongly supports every person’s right to have guns.

He has been criticized for statements he made early in the campaign about people who change their gender. He could also face problems with anti-tax conservatives because he increased taxes when he was governor.

He announced his candidacy on May 5, 2015.

Bobby Jindal

Bobby Jindal is governor of Louisiana. He also represented the southern state for one term in the U.S. Congress. Mr. Jindal is the first Indian-American governor and presidential candidate.

Bobby Jindal

Bobby Jindal

The governor is conservative on social issues. He is against abortion and embryonic stem cell research. He also opposes same-sex marriage and wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He has criticized President Obama’s policies on fighting terrorism.

Mr. Jindal has low approval rates in his state. Louisiana is suffering a budget shortage. Experts say Mr. Jindal does not have much of a chance of winning the Republican Party nomination.

He announced his candidacy on June 24, 2015.

John Kasich

The Republican governor of Ohio, John Kasich, wants to be president. He has been elected twice to the top political office in the midwestern state of Ohio. Mr. Kasich also served the state as a three term U.S. Congressman.

John Kasich

John Kasich

He is an expert on fiscal, or financial, issues. Mr. Kasich led the Budget Committee when he served in the House of Representatives. In that job, he helped create the country’s spending plans.

He also worked as an investment banker and as host of a television program for Fox News.

Governor Kasich is known as a moderate conservative. He has sought compromise with Democrats on some issues. Many Republicans do not approve of his support for the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare.

Mr. Kasich was born into the middle class. His father was a mail carrier. Mr. Kasich appeals to blue-collar workers. He is known to be outspoken and sometimes unpredictable.

He announced he is running on July 21, 2015.

George Pataki

George Pataki is a moderate Republican from the northeast area of the U.S. He served three terms as governor of New York.

George Pataki

George Pataki

During his campaign, Mr. Pataki will talk about what he achieved in New York. These achievements include making government smaller and attracting Hispanic and Asian voters. Mr. Pataki will also talk about his leadership related to the terrorist attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001.

He is the only Republican candidate who supports abortion rights. He is also a strong defender of gay rights. These are not positions that will win him many votes in Republican primaries. And he is not liberal enough to attract enough Democrats.

He announced his candidacy on May 28, 2015.

Rand Paul

Rand Paul is a senator from Kentucky. He was elected to the Senate in 2010. He is an eye doctor and the son of Ron Paul, a popular Libertarian who ran for president in three previous elections.

Rand Paul

Rand Paul

Mr. Paul has the support of many of his father’s fans: Libertarians and strongly conservative Republicans called Tea Partiers.

Some of his positions are outside the usual Republican ideas. He strongly supports civil liberties and limited government in all areas, including social issues. Mr. Paul also favors less U.S. involvement overseas.

In May he fought on the Senate floor to end what he calls the National Security Agency’s “illegal spying program.” Senator Paul says he is running, in his words, “to take our country back from the special interests… that are more concerned with their personal welfare than the general welfare.”

He announced his candidacy on April 7, 2015.

Rick Perry

Rick Perry is the former governor of Texas. When he left office in 2014 he was the longest-serving Texas governor.

Rick Perry

Rick Perry

Mr. Perry ran for president in 2012. Many people expected him to do well, but he performed poorly. He struggled to learn the issues and could not remember information when journalists or opponents asked him for answers in a debate.

Mr. Perry is trying to improve his performance this election. He also has a new look with thick-framed fashionable glasses.

Many conservatives who want small government like Mr. Perry. In other words, they want to limit the size and involvement of government. Mr. Perry also appeals to people who want to restrict immigration and support military operations.

Mr. Perry started his campaign low in the polls, or opinion surveys.

He announced his candidacy on June 4, 2015.

Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio is a U.S. senator from Florida. He is the son of Cuban immigrants. He won his job in the senate by upsetting – that is, unexpectedly beating – Governor Charlie Crist in 2010.

Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio

He is well liked among conservatives and also enjoys support from the official Republican Party. Many see Mr. Rubio, who was born in 1971, as a part of the new generation of conservatives.

He is fluent in Spanish and is an energetic politician and speaker. He has the potential of appealing to voters both inside and outside the Republican Party.

Mr. Rubio has an interventionist foreign policy. In other words, he believes the U.S. government should intervene in other countries’ political situations.

Marco Rubio is near the top of the Republican list of favorite candidates. His strong position means he could find himself in a two-way race for the Republican nomination with his fellow Florida politician, Jeb Bush.

He announced his candidacy on April 13, 2015.

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum is a former congressman and senator from Pennsylvania. He was the Republican runner-up in 2012.

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum

Mr. Santorum wants to win the votes of working-class Americans. He says he is a Republican who cares about common people, not just about rich people and business companies.

He is also talking about his foreign policy experience and ideas. But he is best known for his conservative social beliefs. Mr. Santorum opposes abortion rights, birth control and same-sex marriage.

He announced his candidacy on May 27, 2015.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump became the 12th Republican to declare a run for the White House. This is his first time in the presidential race, but his name is well known — it is on buildings, hotels, neckties and even steaks. Known for being

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

a showman, Mr. Trump is likely to be a lively and entertaining addition to the Republican race.

The billionaire made his money in real estate. He says he will pay for his campaign himself. The 69-year-old is also known for his performance on reality T.V. shows.

In late July he said if he does not win the Republican nomination he will consider running as an Independent candidate.

He announced his candidacy on June 17, 2015.

Scott Walker

Scott Walker was elected governor of the state of Wisconsin in 2010. He is considered uncompromising. He fought for months against labor unions in his state. He worked to limit unions’ power. And he won.

Scott Walker

Scott Walker

His anti-union policies won love from conservative voters and the opposite from liberals. He fought and defeated an election recall effort in 2013. He won reelection in 2014.

Mr. Walker wants a smaller government. He has cut government programs in Wisconsin and refused to raise state taxes. The politician is also a social conservative. He called the U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, “a grave mistake.”

Governor Walker has never run a national political campaign. Some critics say he lacks personality.

He is critical of immigration. Experts say he needs to better communicate his positions on foreign policy.

He announced he is running on July 13, 2015.

Anne Ball wrote this guide for Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly and Caty Weaver were the editors.

______________________________________________________________

Words in This Story

grassroots – n. people at a local or low level the most basic level of an organization or movement

Founding Fathers – n. the people who started and organized a nation, for example, George Washington

outspoken – adj. speaking one’s mind

mainstream – adj. the thoughts and beliefs accepted by the largest number of people

ordained – v. officially made a minister or rabbi

host – n. TV or radio show anchor

evangelical – adj. a Christian group that stresses the authority of the Bible

gender – n. being male or female

achieved –v. finished in at a high level

libertarian –n. a person who believes people should be allowed to do and say what they want without government interference

civil liberties –n. peoples’ rights to do or say things that are not illegal without being stopped by the government

fashionable – adj. popular now

polls – n. opinion surveys used by political groups to understand how people are thinking

interventionist – adj. belief that using government action to directly influence the politics or economics of another country, is good policy

runner-up –n. someone who comes in second in a race

XS
SM
MD
LG