Where they stand and where they have stood

Some Democratic candidates walked the streets of Iowa for last-minute campaigning, while one went to church with a former president. However, five candidates struggled for victory in the first step of Election 2004 and a battle with incumbent President George W. Bush.

The Associated Press is calling this year’s Iowa caucuses the closest contest since the caucuses in 1988, as polls this weekend indicated that Gov. Howard Dean, Sen. John Edwards and Sen. John Kerry were in a tight heat to win the Democratic nomination.

Susan MacManus, a USF political analyst and political science professor, said the polls are an indication on how high-profile races get more attention.

“People always forget that races become tighter with more media attention,” MacManus said.

However, MacManus said the margin of error of the polls, which some people don’t always take into consideration, show that there is virtually a dead heat among the three candidates.

The Iowa caucuses serve as a ‘winnowing’ effect for the candidates, MacManus said. Iowans weeded out the candidates when they went to the 2,000 precincts to select their candidates Monday night.

“Individuals go to their locations and express their opinion about the candidate of their choice,” MacManus said. “It is different than going to fill out a ballot. They sort themselves out in candidate groups, talk, then vote. The groups must be a certain size, about 15 percent to even be considered a choice (for the nomination). Those groups that do not meet that size must break off and go to their second choice.”

MacManus added that having seven candidates run for a chance to beat Bush makes it difficult because it becomes one giant “family feud.”

“It doesn’t strengthen the party, and it makes it hard to beat Bush,” she said.But ultimately, MacManus said the demographics of Iowa’s caucuses would show how well the candidates would do campaigning throughout the United States.

“People refer to an early contest (as a win),” she said. “But the candidates have to beat the expectations.”

Here is what the candidates say on the economy and homeland security:

Wesley K. Clark:

Economy and Jobs – Clark proposes a $100-billion “Job Creation Plan” with $40 billion dedicated to homeland security and $40 billion for states in fiscal crisis due to budget cuts.

Homeland Security/ War in Iraq – Clark proposes the following principles: End American unilateralism by re-incorporating our allies, create a new international authority and transform the military operation in Iraq into a NATO operation. Also, Clark wants to consider adding troops, adapt soldiers to guerrilla warfare, use intelligence resources better, train Iraqi security forces and engage neighbors in better border security.

Howard B. Dean III:

Economy and Jobs — A proposal called The Fund to Restore America will cost about $100 billion. The money will go to states and communities experiencing an economic downturn to be used for hiring public health personnel, security providers as well as to help pay for new schools, roads and other public works.

Homeland Security/War in Iraq -Dean proposes a three-circle defense strategy here in the United States. He says: A circle of preparation and response needs to be put into place to ensure that the resources are available immediately at the local and state level; another circle needs to be used to protect and to defend the U.S. infrastructure and its borders; and a final circle of prevention, in cooperation with Russia and our allies, will help reduce the chances that weapons of mass destruction fall into the wrong hands. Dean also wants to get the United States and its allies back together to combat terror and Iraq as one.

John Edwards:

Economy and Jobs – Edwards proposes a 10 percent tax cut for corporations that produce goods in the United States in order to open up more job opportunities in the United States. He also says he will stop corporations from getting tax cuts.

Homeland Security/ War in Iraq – Edwards proposes more money go to “first responders,” such as police and firefighters and tighter border control. He also wants to establish a new Homeland Intelligence Agency that would focus on intelligence gathering and analysis.

John Kerry:

Economy and Jobs – Kerry wants to create a new “State Tax Relief and Education Fund” that will help states so they don’t have to make cuts that will hurt the economy. He also proposes that those who have a college degree will make on average twice as much over the course of their lifetime and 70 percent more every year than someone who does not have a college degree. Kerry also wants to eliminate loopholes for companies that send jobs outside the country and reward those companies that create new manufacturing jobs with tax credits.

Homeland Security/War in Iraq – Kerry proposes to transfer responsibility to the United Nations for governance, to build an international coalition, to enlist the National Guard in homeland security, to double the size of the AmeriCorps and also to have a community defense service with hundreds being trained as civil defense volunteers.

Dennis J. Kucinich:

Economy and Jobs – Kucinich proposes the creation of a low-cost federal financing mechanism to administer $50 billion in zero-interest loans every year for 10 years. Twenty percent of these funds would be targeted for school construction and repair in order to open up more jobs.

Homeland Security/War in Iraq – Kucinich says the war in Iraq was wrong and wants to build up better relations with our allies to fight the war on terror.

Joseph Lieberman:

Economy and Jobs – Lieberman proposes an investment tax credit of 20 percent for achievement in technology to get the high-tech economy moving again. He also wants to eliminate capital gains for new investments in small companies that would create a zero capital gain rate for direct, long-term investments by individuals and companies offering stocks.

Homeland Security/War in Iraq – Lieberman proposes about $11 billion more for first responders, including new technology as well as stepping-up port and border security. He proposes an “Alliance for Democracy” that could coordinate counterterrorism efforts with intelligence-sharing and coordinate security.

Rev. Al Sharpton:

Economy and Jobs – Sharpton proposes a $250 billion infrastructure improvement plan to create more jobs. He also would repeal Bush’s tax cuts.

Homeland Security/ War in Iraq – Sharpton opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq and favors a multinational strategy with the United Nations.

Information was used from each of the candidates’ Web sites, TBO.com, The Orlando Sentinel and CNN.com to compile this report.

Compiled by Stefanie Green