Party affiliation: Democrat
Campaign website: barackobama.com
President Barack Obama began his political career in 1996 upon his election to the Illinois state Senate, where he represented the 13th District. He rose to national prominence with his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention and was elected to the U.S. Senate that year. He served as a senator for more than three years until resigning to focus on his 2008 bid for the presidency.
Obama says he is a firm supporter of economic security and jobs for Americans, and he emphasizes the need to change the tax code to eliminate deductions for businesses that outsource jobs. He also advocates cutting payroll taxes, and he wants to eliminate tax breaks for the extremely wealthy.
“Right now, because of loopholes and shelters in the tax code, a quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households,” Obama said during his fourth State of the Union address on Jan. 24. “Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax than his secretary.”
Obama’s administration pushed the Affordable Care Act, which established a new Patient Bill of Rights intended to eliminate health-insurance practices deemed unfair to consumers, such as limits on lifetime coverage. It also allows young adults to remain on their parents’ health insurance plans through age 26. Provisions set to begin in 2014 will include state-run health insurance exchanges, intended to give consumers and small businesses more options for purchasing affordable coverage.
During his recent State of the Union address, Obama also proposed several strategies for making higher education more affordable. He said Congress should block higher interest rates on student loans, extend tuition tax credits and double the number of work-study jobs. He also called on states to increase their investment in higher education.
Party affiliation: Democrat
Campaign website: terryforpresident.com
Randall Terry has a picture of himself laughing with Pope John Paul II.
“I was asking him if he would like to come to America to get arrested at an abortion clinic with me,” Terry said.
Wearing a floor-length coat made entirely of beaver fur, Terry recently made a campaign stop in Columbia. He said he is staunchly opposed to abortion, federal entitlements and marijuana prohibition.
In 1998, Terry ran for Congress in upstate New York as a Republican. And in 2006, he ran for a seat in the Florida state Senate, also as a Republican. He failed to win his party’s nomination in either campaign.
Terry grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and spent much of his youth at a piano bench. Despite being the son of two schoolteachers, he dropped out of high school at 16 and spent his time hitchhiking and sleeping on beaches. After a year of living on the road, Terry experienced a dramatic conversion to Christianity.
“My constituency in Missouri is the pro-life Catholics and Catholic Evangelicals,” Terry said.
After the global economy, conflict in the Middle East and Social Security reform, he thinks abortion is the most critical voting issue in the upcoming election.
“We must make it a crime to kill an unborn human being — a criminal act,” he said. “If you vote for Obama knowing that he promotes murder, then you have blood on your hands.”
Terry called Planned Parenthood a “criminal syndicate” and said methods of birth control should be outlawed.
Terry supports capital punishment, but he said he thinks the American judicial system is “flawed.”
“I think we need to decriminalize marijuana,” Terry said. "We’re spending all this time locking people up who are not doing anything to hurt anybody."
Terry said he thinks the federal government should end all entitlements, including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, to decrease the federal deficit.
Party affiliation: Democrat
Campaign Website: johnwolfeforamerica.com
John Wolfe is an attorney in Chattanooga, Tenn., with a great interest in politics. Wolfe has unsuccessfully run for six federal, state and local elections since 1998, four of which he ran for Congress in 1998, 2002, 2004 and 2010.
Wolfe was fined $10,000 in 2008 because he neglected to file a fourth-quarter campaign finance disclosure report after running for state Senate. Wolfe cannot be elected for any state or local office until the fine is paid, but that did not stop him from running for president.
On Jan. 12, Wolfe received 246 of nearly 60,000 votes in the Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire.
Wolfe thinks the U.S. defense budget is too high. He said Obama would not reduce military spending as promised but is actually for a more expensive military.
“We’re spending, right now, more on the military — $200 billion more a year — than we did at the height of the Cold War,” Wolfe said. “We still project increases in the defense budget over the next five or 10 years in real-dollar terms.”
Wolfe also believes in banking reform. He said that the reckless and fraudulent people in charge of the banks are the same people that are now making policy in the White House.
Wolfe said he is running because Obama is failing to stand up for Democratic principles.
“I represent the people over the banks, I represent the people over Wall Street and I represent the people over business — over the Pentagon,” Wolfe said. “If the people want somebody who's going to be there for them, then John Wolfe’s their man.”
As a candidate for the people, Wolfe said, he even answers his own phone and invites people to call his toll-free number at (866) 266-1172.
Party affiliation: Democratic
Campaign website: darcy2012.com
Darcy Richardson is a progressive activist and former Democratic precinct committeeman from Jacksonville, Fla., who has been long active in independent, third-party politics.
He is also the author of six books, including “A Nation Divided: The 1968 Presidential Campaign,” published in 2002.
Richardson’s political experience includes:
- Co-founding the New Democrats, a progressive organization within the national Democratic Party whose mission is to gain control of the party from political managers and media consultants.
- Serving as U.S. Sen. Eugene McCarthy’s manager in his 1992 presidential campaign.
- Running for Pennsylvania auditor general in 1980.
- Running for the U.S. Senate in 1988.
- Managing Brian Moore’s independent campaign for a Florida seat in the U.S. Senate in 2006.
Richardson announced his candidacy in 2011, according to his campaign website. He was disappointed in Obama for failing to follow through on campaign promises and for his inability to pull the nation out of what Richardson calls a “great recession.”
“There’s a lot of disillusionment and frustration among progressive Democrats in the U.S.,” Richardson said in an interview with First Coast News. “And I think one-quarter of the party would like to see a challenger emerge in the election cycle. … This is something deeper than a recession.”
Richardson’s campaign website says he seeks an immediate end to the war in Afghanistan and opposes the Keystone XL pipeline. Richardson also advocates a capital levy on wealth and said that although he’s still developing his platform, he supports a second stimulus package “roughly five or six times the size of Obama’s to jump-start the U.S. economy.”
The second stimulus package would include a Medicare-for-all health care plan and a temporary postponement on home foreclosures.
“The American people are hurting,” he said. “And they’re hurting bad.”
Missourian reporters Amy Willsey, Anli Xiao, Dan Burley, Tony Lee, Blaine Duncan, Jacob Kirn, Hannah Cushman, Dani Kinnison, Madeline O'Leary, Laura D'Angelo, Allyson Wilson and Karen Miller contributed to these profiles.
Other parties' candidates
Republicans | Gary Johnson, Mitt Romney, Michael J. Meehan, Keith Drummond, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich. On the ballot, but no longer running: Herman Cain, Jon Huntsman, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann.
Libertarian | James Orlando Ogle III