Thu, Jan 25, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Presidential candidates must take a clear stance

By Cao Changqing 曹長青

Both the US and Taiwan will be electing a new president next year. There are 22 months left before the Nov. 4 US elections, but would-be candidates from both the Democratic and Republican parties are already gearing up for a tough competition.

In Taiwan, there are only 14 months left until the presidential elections. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) credibility and prestige have been damaged in the wake of the campaign to oust President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁). Nevertheless, no one has stepped forward as a competitor for the KMT's presidential nomination.

The Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) "big four" -- Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun and former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) -- have all indicated that they intend to run for the party's nomination, but not one of them has made it official.

A race between these four DPP politicians could prove tough. A look at the run-up ahead of the US presidential election might say something about what we can expect in the DPP primary.

US Vice President Dick Cheney has announced that he will not seek the Republican nomination. Perhaps as a result, a dozen politicians have said they will vie for the party's nomination.

Among them, Senator John McCain and former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani are getting the strongest support, and the two currently enjoy equal support ratings in the party.

In Taiwan, the issue of official independence will continue to be the focus of politics in the run for presidency. In the US, the war in Iraq will be the core issue. Both McCain and Giuliani are firm supporters of the war and seem convinced that it is possible and necessary to win the war.

Although their pro-war stance tows the party line, their positions on other issues differ, and this is a source of concern for party conservatives. For example, McCain once opposed US President George W. Bush's tax cut proposals. As a result, a good number of Republicans disapprove of McCain.

During Giuliani's eight years as mayor of New York City, he was generally credited for the sharp reduction in welfare recipients and crime rates in the city. He was lauded for his leadership following the Sep. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on Manhattan. But given Giuliani's pro-abortion and pro-gay-rights stance, many Republicans regard him as too liberal.

Former US House of Representatives speaker Newt Gingrich said that conservatives were usually dissatisfied with Republican presidential candidates and that it would take finding someone like late US president Ronald Reagan to make them happy.

The Democratic Party also has a dozen prospective presidential candidates. Currently, New York Senator Hillary Clinton and Illinois Senator Barack Obama -- who have both announced their formal decisions to run for the presidential primary -- enjoy the strongest support.

Compared with the even split in support for the two potential Republican candidates, support for Obama is far lower than Clinton's at this point. The primary reason is Obama's perceived unclear stance on major issues, including the war in Iraq, National Health Insurance, and minority rights. Therefore, despite constant attention from the media, Obama is still behind Clinton.

Clinton's political convictions have become clearer since her time as first lady.

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