Rock Your Vote: A Presidential Candidate Primer

Still not sure if you're an Obama Girl or a Romney-ac? Our election cheat sheet explains where the presidential candidates stand on seven key issues. Take this to the polls!
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Still not sure if you're an Obama Girl or a Romney-ac? Our election cheat sheet explains where the presidential candidates stand on seven key issues. Take this to the polls!
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
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Barack Obama:

HIS RECORD Strongly supports a woman's right to choose. First day in office, reversed the "global gag rule," which prevented groups receiving U.S. aid from providing abortion services or information.

IF HE WINS Federal laws would stay the same, but states would keep chipping away at theirs.

Mitt Romney:

HIS RECORD Despite a pro-choice past, Romney's been running as a pro-lifer since 2006 (although he supports abortion rights in cases of rape or incest).

IF HE WINS Hopes a future Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade, but says for now he'd leave it up to the states.

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Barack Obama:

HIS RECORD Obama's Race to the Top plan helps charter schools and emphasizes testing for kids and teachers. Voted to raise Pell Grants as senator and is campaigning on a plan to help quell the rise of tuition.

IF HE WINS He'll try to make it easier for students repaying loans, but has steered clear of bigger reforms like bankruptcy relief.

Mitt Romney:

HIS RECORD Endorsed accountability standards in George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind law. Fan of testing and charter schools.

IF HE WINS He'd scale back federal power over schools. Wouldn't raise Pell Grants or help pay off student loans. As he said to a college student on the campaign trail, "What I want to do is give you a great job so you'll be able to pay it back yourself.

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Health Care

Barack Obama:

HIS RECORD The Affordable Care Act may go down in history as Obama's single biggest accomplishment. The law is complicated and hotly contested, but Obama says it'll insure 34 million more Americans.

IF HE WINS The plan's heart—a universal mandate for all Americans to have health insurance—will take effect midterm.

Mitt Romney:

HIS RECORD Welcome to Romney's personal hell: His universal health-care law in Massachusetts is actually the model for Obamacare.

IF HE WINS He's vowed to start dismantling the Affordable Care Act on his first day. His veep choice, Rep. Paul Ryan, has a budget plan that would slash Medicare, which insures seniors and the disabled, and turn it into a voucher program.

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Birth Control

Barack Obama:

HIS RECORD His Affordable Care Act made birth control available without a co-pay for insured women; has been a staunch defender of Planned Parenthood. But he blocked girls 16 and under from getting Plan B over the counter.

IF HE WINS Our access to birth control would grow, since everyone must be insured under Obamacare by 2014.

Mitt Romney:

HIS RECORD As Massachusetts governor, Romney vetoed a bill to make Plan B available over the counter. Has voiced support for a measure to let employers deny contraceptive coverage on the basis of conscience.

IF HE WINS Those pills and IUDs may be harder to get. Romney wants to "get rid of" Planned Parenthood and repeal Obamacare.

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Barack Obama:

HIS RECORD He's deported 1.4 million immigrants thus far—more than Bush has at this point in his presidency—but sided with the Supreme Court in opposing Arizona's draconian immigration law. He supported the DREAM ACT—a path to citizenship for undocumented young people—and when it failed to pass, issued a similar executive order.

IF HE WINS He'd sign the DREAM Act if passed.

Mitt Romney:

HIS RECORD He had a mixed record as governor of Massachusetts but struck a hard line on illegal immigration in the 2012 primary—upsetting some Latinos.

IF HE WINS Subscribes to the "good fences make good neighbors" policy for the U.S. and Mexico and has vowed to veto the DREAM Act if it lands on his desk.

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Barack Obama:

HIS RECORD Obama is a big fan of the so-called Buffett rule—a tax hike for millionaires and a break for the middle class. But so far, congressional Republicans say any higher taxes are a deal-breaker.

IF HE WINS He'll be praying Congress swings Democrat in 2012. Otherwise, he's not raising taxes on anyone.

Mitt Romney:

HIS RECORD Romney never raised taxes as governor of Massachusetts; instead, he raised revenue by closing loopholes.

IF HE WINS He said, "Corporations are people," and would keep it that way. His proposal would give a huge break to businesses and the wealthy, but one independent analysis says he'd raise middle-class taxes.

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Jobs & Pay

Barack Obama:

HIS RECORD Touts 4.5 million private sector jobs added on his watch, but unemployment hovers at 8 percent. The first law he signed made it easier for women to sue for pay discrminiation.

IF HE WINS Plans to invest in U.S. manufacturing by punishing businesses that move jobs overseas. No word on whether he'd boost the minimum wage or propose a jobs bill.

NOTE: As of Sepetember, the unemployment rate has dropped to 7.8 percent.

Mitt Romney:

HIS RECORD He cites his CEO résumé as evidence that he could create American jobs, but his tenure at private-equity firm Bain Capital has come under fire because the company invested in firms that specialized in outsourcing jobs overseas.

IF HE WINS When it comes to jobs, he's in the trickle-down camp—that is, he believes if CEOs are happy, they'll be more likely to hire the rest of us.

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