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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.