British Broadcasting Corporation

US elections 2008
Vote USA 2008

Election issues guide

Find out where the main candidates running for the presidency stand on a range of key issues

Hillary Clinton



National security

Climate change


Illegal immigration



Hillary ClintonThe senator and ex-First Lady began as the frontrunner for the Democrats.
Voted for the 2003 invasion. Says she would have acted differently had she known what she knows now. Against surge strategy. For phased redeployment of troops and a cap on numbers.
Opposes military action against Iran without congressional approval. Wants to try diplomacy and sanctions before using force. Reluctant to meet Iranian leaders before they make concessions.
Backed the Patriot Act, which granted the government unprecedented powers to investigate terror suspects. Says if America were attacked, she would not shy away from "a military response", if appropriate.
Would agree limits on US carbon emissions, as part of post-Kyoto deal. Wants tougher energy and car efficiency standards and more funding for green research, aiming at energy independence.
Advocates universal healthcare coverage through compulsory health insurance subsidised for poor people. As First Lady, she oversaw an unsuccessful project to give full cover to all Americans.
Backs full immigration reform, including tighter borders, tougher penalties for employers who hire undocumented workers and steps to bring the estimated 12m illegal immigrants "out of the shadows".
Says a woman's right to choose is a fundamental constitutional right. Latterly talks more about the role of faith, values and education in preventing unwanted pregnancies in the first place.
Says rising pay inequality is damaging America's middle and working class. Would cut tax benefits to big companies and invest in jobs. Has spoken against free trade pacts.

Barack Obama

Barack ObamaThe Illinois senator promises "change" and would be the first black US president.
Opposed the war in Iraq from the outset and says there is "no military solution". Opposed "surge" strategy. Backs phased withdrawal of US forces - with all troops out of combat operations within 16 months of taking office.
Favours "aggressive personal diplomacy". Would meet Iranian leaders without preconditions. He says they would change their behaviour if given incentives to do so. Military option not off the table.
Says Bush foreign policy has put US at more risk; would build alliances. Wants increased national security funding to be allocated to areas most at risk of attack.
Wants an 80% cut in US greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Wants US to lead global effort to combat climate change. Would invest $150bn over 10 years in clean energy.
Backs universal coverage but would not make insurance compulsory, except for children. Subsidies would make cover more affordable and insurers would be unable to refuse coverage because of pre-existing conditions.
Wants US-Mexico border better policed and backs stricter penalties for employers who hire undocumented workers. Argues that giving illegal immigrants a path to citizenship is not an amnesty if they pay a fine.
Trusts women to make their own choices on abortion "in conjunction with their doctors and their families and their clergy". Criticised Supreme Court decision to uphold ban on late-term abortion.
Would use targeted tax relief to help middle-class families cope with rising costs and stagnant pay. Would repeal Bush tax cuts for rich households. Wants to reform healthcare and renegotiate free trade deals.


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