Meet the GOP Presidential Candidates

By Jennifer Leigh Parker,|Special to CNBC.com

Meet the GOP Presidential Candidates

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American voters will soon be well acquainted with the Republican presidential candidates vying to unseat President Obama. The first primaries are only a couple months away. For those who don’t follow the daily news flow, there are a series of nationally televised debates to get to know the candidates and issues. Having begun in May, the next major debate is What’s more, this presidential election will be somewhat unique. It is the first one to reflect the as well as the groundbreaking 2010 Sup
Photo: AP

American voters will soon be well acquainted with the Republican presidential candidates vying to unseat President Barack Obama. The first primaries are only a couple months away.

For those who don’t follow the daily news flow, there is a series of nationally televised debates to get to know the candidates and issues. Having begun in May, the next major debate is CNBC’s co-sponsored one in Rochester, Mich., Nov. 9.

What’s more, this presidential election will be somewhat unique. It is the first to reflect the Tea Party movement, as well as the groundbreaking 2010 Supreme Court ruling, Citizens United v. FEC, that struck down long-standing limits on campaign spending by corporations and unions.

Fundraising, however, is just one of several critical ingredients to success. A candidate’s grasp of the issues, personal history, and campaign skills can also make or break a run for the White House.

Click ahead to learn about the candidates, their credentials, and the issues that define their campaigns.

By Jennifer Leigh Parker
Posted 1 November 2011

Newt Gingrich

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author, speaker, documentary film producer flat tax, zero capital gains tax, reduce government size and spending by applying modern management theory, repeal Dodd-Frank. 2.9 million Newt is at heart an academic, and the sweeping measures to right-size the federal government and lower taxes that he introduced as Speaker in the 1990s foundered on the realities of Washington politics. Fifteen years later, he has reloaded on management techniques like Lean Six Sigma to streamline federal bureauc
Photo: Chris McKay | Getty Images

Occupation: Author, speaker, documentary film producer

Key issues: Flat tax; zero capital gains tax; reduce government size and spending by applying modern management theory; repeal of the Dodd-Frank Act

Total funds raised: $2.9 million

Business background: Sweeping measures to right-size the federal government and lower taxes that he introduced as Speaker of the House in the 1990s foundered on the realities of Washington politics. Now he's advocating management techniques to streamline federal bureaucracy.

Jon Huntsman

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US Ambassador to China pushes for simpler, flatter tax code; engagement to promote free trade. 4.5 million His resume says that Huntsman’s 30-year government career was interrupted by an eight-year stint as a corporate executive—and even that experience came at the company founded by his father, Jon Huntsman Sr., who invented the to-go food container we call a clamshell. The candidate’s turns as deputy trade representative and later ambassador to two business-critical states argue that his e
Photo: www.jon2012.com

Occupation: Ex-U.S. Ambassador to China

Key issues: Simpler, flatter tax code; engagement to promote free trade

Total funds raised: $4.5 million

Business background: Huntsman’s 30-year government career was interrupted by an eight-year stint as a corporate executive— at the company founded by his father, Jon Huntsman, Sr., who invented the clamshell food container. The candidate then held ambassadorships to both Singapore and China.

Ron Paul

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U.S. representative from Texas balanced federal budget, abolish the Federal Reserve Bank, abolish most taxes, including income tax, substituting excise taxes. Strong enforcement of immigration. 12.6 million As a private-practice obstetrician, Paul built a small business, and his concern for rank-and-file entrepreneurs show up in his starkly libertarian arguments for reforming the federal financial system. His economic program is so sweeping, however, that the sum effect on business is unknow
Photo: Getty Images

Occupation: U.S. Representative from Texas

Key issues: Balanced federal budget; abolish the Federal Reserve; abolish most taxes, including income tax, by substituting excise taxes; strong enforcement of immigration

Total funds raised: $12.6 million

Business background: As a private-practice obstetrician, Ron Paul built a small business, and his concern for rank-and-file entrepreneurs shows up in his libertarian arguments for reforming the federal financial system.

Rick Perry

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Governor of Texas regulatory reform, immigration; economic revival through lowered taxes and spending cuts 17.2 million A professional politician since the early 1990s, Perry knows the hardships of running a small family concern. After his five-year stint flying C-150 cargo planes for the air force, Perry returned to the dry-country ranch where he grew up in Paint Creek, north of Abilene. Though friends say Perry was biding his time before making an expected move into politics, Perry activel
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Occupation: Governor of Texas

Key issues: Regulatory reform; immigration; economic revival through lowered taxes; and spending cuts

Total funds raised: $17.2 million

Business background: A politician since the early 1990s, Rick Perry knows the hardships of running a small family concern. After flying C-150 cargo planes for the U.S. Air Force, Perry returned to ranch where he grew up in Paint Creek, Texas.

Mitt Romney

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author, motivational speaker government spending and efficiency; Social Security reform; military buildup 32.2 million Romney’s promise as a candidate is to bring “the Bain Way”—the situational, data-driven approach that made his former venture capital firm, and clients like Domino's Pizza and Staples such a success. More relevant in the current economic client may be Romney’s reputation as a turnaround artist: after co-founding Bain Capital, he returned to the company that spawned it, Bain
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Occupation: Author, motivational speaker, businessman
 
Key issues: Government spending and efficiency; Social Security reform; military buildup

Total funds raised: $32.2 million

Business background: Romney’s promise as a candidate is to bring “the Bain Way” — the situational, data-driven approach that made his former venture capital firm, and clients such as Domino's Pizza and Staples, such a success. More relevant in the current economic climate may be Romney’s reputation as a turnaround artist. After co-founding Bain Capital, he returned to the company that spawned it, Bain Consulting, as CEO, and within a year pulled it back from bankruptcy protection. He then performed the same magic for Salt Lake City’s limping Winter Olympics.

Rick Santorum

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Lawyer anti-abortion, anti-same-sex marriage, aggressive enforcement of immigration laws. 1.3 million Though he holds an M.B.A., Santorum is running on his conservative stands on social issues. In recent weeks, he has made a bid to get in the dominant economic conversation with his “zero-zero-zero” plan, echoing Cain’s “9-9-9” program. Santorum would eliminate taxes on manufacturing and overseas investments brought back to the United States, and would “zero out” regulations put in place by t
Photo: Getty Images

Occupation: Lawyer
 
Key issues: Anti-abortion; anti-same-sex marriage; aggressive enforcement of immigration laws

Total funds raised: $1.3 million

Business Background: Though he holds an MBA, Santorum is equally concerned with holding office. When the U.S. Congressman moved up to the Senate in 1995, he was the youngest Senator then serving. He has made a bid to inject himself into the economic conversation by echoing Cain’s “9-9-9” program with his “zero-zero-zero” plan. Consistently, Santorum highlights his conservative stands on abortion and gay rights.

Michele Bachmann

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U.S. representative from Minnesota government spending, repeal of 2009 healthcare act 8.4 million Bachmann put herself through college and law school by working as a bartender, a waitress and in other temporary jobs, but her primary exposure to the ins and outs of business came during her service as a tax litigator at the IRS. After leaving Treasury, Bachmann briefly (and reportedly unsuccessfully) maintained a tax law office before throwing herself into education activism in Minnesota.
Photo: SAUL LOEB | Getty Images

Occupation: U.S. Representative from Minnesota

Key issues: Government spending; repeal of 2009 health-care law

Total funds raised: $8.4 million

Business background: Michele Bachmann's primary exposure to business came during her service as a tax litigator at the IRS. After leaving the Treasury Department, she briefly maintained a tax law office before throwing herself into education activism in Minnesota.

Herman Cain (Campaign Suspended)

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motivational speaker, author, Baptist minister advocates flat, nine-percent personal income, corporate, and national sales taxes; energy independence; government spending; Social Security reform. 5.3 million He’s best known for rescuing the ailing Godfather Pizza chain with his counterintuitive strategy of shutting hundreds of locations and focusing on per-store profits. But Cain’s business resume ranges from macro—see his tenure at the Fed’s Kansas City branch under Alan Greenspan—to the mun
Photo: Bill Clark | Getty Images

Occupation: Motivational speaker, author, Baptist minister

Key issues: Advocates flat, nine percent personal income, corporate, and national sales taxes; energy independence; government spending; Social Security reform

Total funds raised: $5.3 million

Business background: He’s best known for rescuing the ailing Godfather Pizza chain with his counterintuitive strategy of shutting hundreds of locations and focusing on per-store profits. But Cain’s business resume ranges from macro — see his tenure at the Fed’s Kansas City branch during the Alan Greenspan era — to the mundane: He managed Burger King’s 400-store Philadelphia region in the 1980s. Now he’s vowing to campaign as he would run a business or his administration: Spending money as it comes in and avoiding debt.