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Jul 21 2015
by Bianca D'Agostino

Rundown of the 2016 Presidential Candidates

By Bianca D'Agostino - Jul 21 2015

You are finally going to be able to vote in the incoming Presidential Election in 2016. At first glance that may seem not that interesting, but this new authority can really change the world as we know it! The power you know have at the age of 18 can change lives or make them stay the same, ban or allow certain objects and actions or even restrict or liberate certain freedoms. Knowing the power that comes with voting I look forward to using it in the 2016 Presidential Election — the only problem is that like many of us, I don't have a clue as to who is running. Here's a rundown of the major official candidates you should keep an eye out for.

Democratic Party Official Presidential Candidates:


The Democratic Party is considered to be people of a more "liberal" or "left leaning" point of view meaning they support less traditional values and advocate for new contemporary ways of thinking. For example, the majority of Democratic candidates support things such as same-sex marriage, being pro-choice and an increase in government power (more community based, less individualistic).*

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Rodham Clinton is no stranger to the political spotlight. Her ties to The White House started with her husband and former president, Bill Clinton, and her former position as secretary of state. As a veteran of Presidential campaigning (Clinton ran in the 2008 election, but lost in the primaries to then-candidate and now-president, Barack Obama), she has first hand knowledge and experience of the election race. Clinton's campaign website defines her beliefs through her "Four Fights," which are "building an economy for tomorrow, strengthening America's families, defending America and our core values and revitalizing our Democracy." These "Four Fights" can speak to pretty much everyone, making her campaign less partisan-based in comparison to other candidates (strictly based on party lines). But Clinton has faced several recent scandals including the tragic and controversial events that took place in Benghazi along with the unauthorized use of her personal email for private government work. Some voters have lost trust in her while others see promise in her values.

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders, the 73-year-old self proclaimed "Democratic Socialist," is another official Presidential candidate. Serving as congressman for Vermont for the past 16 years and a two-term senator, he has decided to move from his Independent Party (meaning he does not associate with either of the two main political parties) lines and run with the Democrats, as his points of view lean more to the left. Like other candidates, he comes with some controversy as he critiques major contributors to the political world, like the Koch Brothers — a.k.a. the second wealthiest family in America — through his support of combating issues such as money-run politics (wealthy people and corporations investing millions of dollars into elections, which some consider to take away from the campaign itself). Sanders also plans to focus on resolving major environmental issues.

Martin O'Mally

Martin O'Mally is one of the few candidates who can definitively say he has the diversity vote on lock. As former governor of Maryland and former mayor of Baltimore, he has the White and African American vote. As a major critic of President Obama's immigration policies, O'Mally hopes to get the Latino vote as well, making him a triple threat in the diversity voters. He promotes things such as equality in regards to the economy, gender and race. According to his campaign website, he plans to gain accountability from the government and Wall Street on making things "transparent" and understood, all while also implementing policies to break down poverty.

Lincoln Chafee

Lincoln Chafee is former governor of Rhode Island, as well as senator. Chafee has had experience in a variety of parties as he began his political career as a Republican mayor, an Independent governor and then a Republican senator. This Brown University grad is now running as a Democrat candidate due to his original views conflicting with the Republican party. According to his campaign website, he is against the "war hawk" style of government and supports a battle fought with logic and not military enforcement. Another one of his "Priorities" include combating the problems of the middle class and fighting for a person's personal liberties.

Jim Webb

Decorated Vietnam War veteran, former senator and author, Jim Webb is an official Presidential Democratic candidate. As the first person to announce their candidacy for either party, he proves to be a unique candidate. Though he sides with the Democratic party, it has been thought that he would better suit a third party (for example, Independent) due to his political perspective. According to his campaign website, he focuses on five main issues: economic fairness, foreign policy, national infrastructure (the basic structure of our nation and our nation's government), criminal justice reform and good governance. These five main issues all encompass his idea to "re-establish a transparent, functioning governmental system in our country." To support this concept, he goes as far as to have his campaign slogan be: "Leadership you can trust." With these universal ideas, Webb has the potential to be supported by a variety of people, but he has had controversy due to his literature. Some believe his literature is too graphic (even to the extent of erotic), while others feel it is a clear depiction of the Vietnam War and the culture many soldiers were forced to endure.

Now let's move on to the Republican Party Official Presidential Candidates:

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The Republican Party is considered to be people of a more "conservative" or "right leaning" point of view meaning they support more traditional values. They believe in a more "Laissez-faire" or "hands off" style of government in which America can be run more by the individual. For example, the majority of Republican candidates support things such as a free-market economy in which there is little to no government intervention, being pro-life and a decrease in government power (less community based, more individualistic).*

Jeb Bush

You probably recognize the name Bush — Jeb Bush is directly related to two former Presidents: George H. W. Bush (his father) and George W. Bush (his brother). As former Florida governor and with his family ties, Bush has an intense amount of experience in the political field. He prides himself on being a family man, as the first thing in his biography on his campaign website is the story of him and his wife and the development of his family. In regards to the issues, Bush supports implementing the Common Core, creating an immigration trend based on a person's individual skills and replacing Obamacare with a new system, as he views it as flawed. Similar to Hillary Clinton's recent email scandal, Bush has also previously dealt with a private email scandal of his own during his time as governor in 2001.

Ben Carson

A Yale University, John Hopkins University and University of Michigan grad, Dr. Ben Carson is a very well-educated candidate. Of African American heritage, this doctor with no previous political experience brings a new perspective to the political game. He has been noted as, "one of the nation’s 20 foremost physicians and scientists" and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from former president George W. Bush (Jeb Bush's brother), which is "the highest civilian honor in the land," according to his campaign bio. Dr. Carson has many ideas to better our country, such as his idea of a Balanced Budget Amendment so the American government is mandated to pay off our national debt, making education a true number one priority in our nation and integrating faith back into our society "as our Founding Fathers" had.

Chris Christie

This born-and-raised New Jersey candidate is currently the two-term governor of New Jersey. His campaign slogan of "Telling it like it is" speaks very true to his character, as he is known to be very vocal about his political opinions. According to his campaign website, his idea is to take on the "Tough Issues" as he plans to reform social security, Medicare and Medicaid, create a strong national military defense, reform the educational system by making it more affordable to receive higher education (basically make college more affordable for Americans) and reinvigorate our economy. Christie has an in with business men and women voters as he has business-like points of views, but he has been associated with a major scandal in New Jersey known as "Bridgegate," which could turn voters away.

Ted Cruz

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz considers himself to be a "courageous conservative" as he states he will speak the truth on major political matters. His Irish-Italian and Cuban heritage give him a large diversity range as he proclaims to stay true to the Constitution in regards to the issues mentioned on his campaign website. On the issues, Cruz believes in keeping the Constitution as a standard and to run the government solely by this document (meaning supporting our first and second amendment rights — there has been some controversy over the second amendment's "Right to bear arms" so based on Cruz's beliefs, he supports the amendment). Cruz is also interested in supporting a stronger military to create a "safer America," is pro-life, wants to repeal Obamacare (he is in charge of the entire attempt to repeal President Obama's famous health care act) and promotes "entrepreneurial freedom" in the American economy.

Carly Fiorina

I think I’m the best person for the job because I understand how the economy actually works," states Carly Fiorina, the sole female Republican candidate and former CEO at HP. As a professional business woman, cancer survivor and active volunteer, Fiorina is another interesting and unique candidate in this year's election. She directly opposes Hillary Clinton as they are the only two female candidates, but she plans on not letting that stand in her way and to focus on the issues. She believes in a free market economy and having the government abstain from intervention and plans to increase border security to limit the amount of illegal immigrants that enter America. Her pro-business perspective is similar to the other business men candidates running for office, but she plans to utilize her personal "female success story" to her advantage (she was originally just a secretary and then rose to CEO on her own).

Lindsey Graham

Lindsey Graham is what is called a "war-hawk" — one who very much supports military intervention and is willing to go to war. Graham has served 33 years worth of military time and has a slogan of being prepared to be "Commander-in-Chief from day one." With this mentality and experience, it is clearly stated on his campaign website that his goal is to "Secure" America's safety, future and values. He feels that he has the strength and experience to tackle the tough issues, such as making America a stable global power and mainly prevent global terrorism from consuming our way of life. Graham also has political experience as he has worked both in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, is also known as the longest serving governor as he served for 11 years. His points of view on the issues are ones of a typical conservative candidate. Similar to fellow candidate Lindsey Graham, he is also considered a "war-hawk" as he wants to use military action against the states of Islam, Iran and possibly Cuba. Huckabee has a unique perspective on immigration, as he feels that illegal immigrant families with children should not have the parents of the families deported; he states that “you don’t punish a child for something his parents did.” His educational points of views stated on his campaign website are also rather unprecedented — he is very opposed to the Common Core educational standards and believes in eliminating the Department of Education in our Federal Government as he wants the parents of each local community to yield the power in producing educational standards.

Bobby Jindal

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is a Brown University and Oxford University grad. According to his bio on his campaign website he originally was a pre-med student at Brown, but like many of us, he changed his major due to his lack of passion for medicine to study healthcare policy and literature. The first Indian governor in the United States is known for his "gold-plated résumé," according to The New York Times, as he has participated in a plethora of government related positions through both the state and national levels. On the issues, Jindal believes in doing whatever it takes to eradicate Islamic terrorists from our world even to the extent of bombing Iran to prevent any attainment of nuclear weaponry. Also, once a supporter of the Common Core, he has switched stances on the subject and believes the Common Core has failed in its mission, like many other candidates believe.

George Pataki

Former three-term New York Governor George Pataki is one of the more experienced candidates in the running due to his extensive time in the New York government. He is noted not only for his experience, but for his more moderate-conservative perspective, meaning he brings in some liberal points of view to his mainly conservative beliefs. Before it was made legal across America, Pataki supported same-sex marriage and passed a gay rights bill during his time as governor. However, he said that issues like same-sex marriage and abortion should be left to the states to decide, according to The New York Times. As a Republican candidate, he does have more conservative views such as ending Common Core, repealing Obama's Affordable Care Act and potentially sending troops back to Iraq.

Rand Paul

Rand Paul is mainly known for his outspoken opinions on issues he cares most deeply about. Dr. Paul has been involved in government serving as a United States senator. He also has major political ties as his father Ron Paul was a two-time presidential candidate. As a Duke University grad, he became an eye doctor and practiced for 18 years. He focuses on issues such as tackling the crippling national debt of America, advocating for Americans' right to privacy as he plans to stop NSA spying and funding new ways to find cheap and clean energy. In addition, he tends to criticize the Republican party as he believes there is fault in our party system altogether. Dr. Paul is known for having a bit of a temper and some other off color comments, but his supporters look past that and focus on the issues.

Rick Santorum

Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum is noted as a "conservative committed to restoring the American Dream." His campaign focuses on hardworking families in our nation and his goal is to be a "voice for the voiceless." He has a pretty large family as he and his wife Karen have seven children together. On the issues, Santorum wants America to be a "champion of the middle class." According to his campaign website, he plans to reform our economy with a new economic plan, wants to fight radical Islam and is strongly pro-life. His youngest daughter Bella is a special needs child so he personally believes each life should be cared for whether they are "born or unborn."

Donald Trump

You probably know him from his extremely popular TV show on NBC, "The Apprentice," but now you also know him as the outspoken and most famous celebrity presidential candidate. Donald Trump is a rather "loud and proud" type of candidate, noted for saying things many wouldn't. Trump's campaign slogan is to "Make America great again" as he feels that there are many flaws in our systems right now, specifically caused by President Obama. For example, he feels that Obama has deteriorated the American reputation, which has caused the foreign tension and aggression toward America. Also, according to his campaign website, he plans to reform the American economy by running America like a business.

Scott Walker

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who is one of the most recent people to announce their candidacy for the 2016 Presidential race, believes in taking aggressive action in regards to reforming the government, as he states, "Go Big and Go Bold." His goals are to decrease the amount of government intervention, create a more free-market economy for businesses and enhance people's personal rights in regards to gun control and school choice, according to The New York Times. Being a Washington outsider (this means that he is not holding a federal government position like State Senator or Congressman) he appeals to voters looking for a change in government, something many Republican and even Democratic voters are looking for.

John Kasich

The 16th Republican candidate is Ohio Governor John Kasich. He plans to push the fact he comes from humble beginnings as his father was a mailman. According to his campaign website, Kasich has not only served as governor of Ohio — as former House of Representatives Budget Committee chairman he led a successful balanced budget plan and if he is elected, he intends to implement a new balanced budget in the U.S. government. He also goes against party lines, "by accepting funds for the expansion of Medicaid under Mr. Obama’s Affordable Care Act," according to The New York Times. In addition, Kasich is a supporter of the Common Core, also according to The New York Times, as well as a “strong and emotional supporter of Israel,” like many of his fellow Republican candidates.

And those are the current 2016 Presidential Candidates! Now that you have the knowledge about each candidate, go and form your own opinions and remember to cast your vote!

If you are interested in voting in a Primary or the Official Presidential Election during our sophomore year of college and you are not going to be home due to living away at college, click here to learn about getting an absentee ballot.

*Note: These descriptions of the two main political parties do not 100 percent apply to all candidates. Some candidates and supporters of each party are able to disagree with some values that their party advocates for, as well as agree with values that the opposing party supports.

Lead Image Credit: The Parsnippety

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Bianca D'Agostino - University of Connecticut

Bianca is a freshman at the University of Connecticut majoring in business and minoring in communications and international business. She political articles and loves to be involved on her campus. Bianca loves to read, run, knit and craft. You can follow her on Instagram @biancadag!

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