A comprehensive look into each major declared 2020 candidate


Mallika Srinivas

Democratic and Republican presidential candidates face off in the upcoming 2020 election.

Mia DiLorenzo, freshman apprentice

Zephyrus has chosen to highlight issues that are most prominent to the majority of high school students. While we do not endorse these as the most important stances to look for in a candidate, we do believe that these have the largest direct impact on the liberty of high schoolers.

Donald Trump (R)

Abortion: Trump has made a number of comments surrounding his views on abortion, some being contradictory. In a 1999 interview, Mr. Trump stated “I’m very pro-choice. I hate the concept of abortion. I hate it. I hate everything it stands for. I cringe when I listen to people debate the subject. But, you still, I just believe in choice.” However, his initial stance seems to be something of the past. He now describes himself as staunchly anti-abortion and has appointed two Supreme Court justices that are equipped to overturn Roe v. Wade. During the State of the Union, President Trump used harsh anti-abortion language to express his dedication to ending third-trimester abortion.

Education: During his initial campaign, Trump stated that he would “push colleges to cut the skyrocketing cost of tuition.” Now in office, President Trump has enforced the notion that four-year colleges are not for a large portion of Americans. Rather than discussing student loan reform, President Trump has broadened the options for post-secondary education, and endorsed options such as two-year colleges, technical colleges, and alternative degrees.

Healthcare: On the campaign trail, Trump vowed to both repeal and radically change Obamacare. While he has not yet repealed or replaced it, the overall Obamacare enrollment has decreased over the last year. He has critiqued Sen. Bernie Sanders’ single-payer healthcare plan and believes that individual healthcare plans should be purchased privately.

Environment: On many occasions, Mr. Trump has expressed his skepticism for both global warming and climate change. He has consistently tweeted that he believes global warming is both a myth and a radical Democratic conspiracy. Early in office, he removed the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, a global agreement focused on the regulation of greenhouse gases and the use of renewable energy with the eventual goal of decreasing the global temperature. As the removal is not effective until November of 2020, the next president may either rejoin the agreement or continue the withdrawal. Accordingly, the League of Conservation Voters gave Mr. Trump an ‘F’ regarding his climate change attitudes and actions.

LGBTQ+ Issues: At the Republican National Convention, then-nominee Trump became the first Republican to mention the LGBTQ community during the convention. He stated that he would “do everything in [his] power to protect LGBTQ citizens.” However, many people in the LGBTQ community are stating that President Trump is not a supporter of the community due to the transgender military ban that was recently declared to be constitutional with a 5-4 vote, split along party lines. Additionally, the LGBTQ rights page was removed and remains missing from the official White House website.

Foreign Relations: President Trump has been commended for his progress with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Mr. Trump recently announced a second North Korean Summit where he will once again meet with the North Korean leader. Fulfilling a campaign promise, Trump also pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, one of former President Obama’s most controversial actions while holding office. In late December, President Trump announced that he would be pulling United States troops out of Syria. This proclamation prompted Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis to resign from his position, stating that “[The United States] must use all tools of American power to provide for the common defense, including providing effective leadership to our alliances.” The White House recently set a date in April to remove United States troops from Syrian land.

Tulsi Gabbard (D)

Abortion: During her House tenure, Gabbard opposed a number of bills limiting abortion and the defunding of Planned Parenthood. She was initially pro-life and active in the pro-life movement but has a voting record that supports the claim that she is now pro-choice. A number of her Democratic colleagues are critical of her past opinions, as they generally do not reflect the Democratic party platform.

Environment: Gabbard has been an advocate for climate change legislation and has opposed the Keystone pipeline. She has support from the Sierra Club, Ocean Champions, and the League of Conservation Voters. The League of Conservation Voters gave her a 97% on her pro-environment stance and the Sierra Club and Ocean Champions both released statements of support.

Education: Tulsi Gabbard is a supporter of accessible public education. She has supported legislation that would “eliminate undergraduate tuition at 4-year public colleges and universities.” The bill, authored by Senator Bernie Sanders, would have also made community college completely tuition-free and would have reformed the student loan system.

LGBTQ+ Issues: Gabbard has been very critical of individuals who identify as LGBTQ. She has referred to members of the gay community as “homosexual extremists” and has supported conversion therapy. As these claims resurfaced, Gabbard issued an apology, saying that she “Regret[s] the positions [she] took in the past, and the things [she] said. [She’s] grateful for those in the LGBTQ+ community who have shared their aloha with [her] throughout [her] personal journey.”

Healthcare: Gabbard supports universal healthcare and lower prices for prescription drugs. She co-sponsored a bill that would provide accessible and affordable healthcare to all American citizens. She encourages healthcare to be publicly funded, rather than purchased in the private sector.

Foreign Relations: In 2017, Gabbard met with Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad. She received backlash for the meeting, but dismissed it stating that it was only for “fact-finding” purposes. A few days ago, Gabbard stated that “Assad is not an enemy of the United States” as a response to criticisms she received for meeting with the Syrian dictator. She has been criticized by members from both parties concerning her recent statement. Regarding her campaign promises, Gabbard has vowed to decrease the United States’ military involvement overseas. She has been called an anti-interventionist for these views and has stated that the U.S.’ attempt to “overthrow the Syrian government” is “counterproductive.”

Kirsten Gillibrand (D)

Abortion: Gillibrand has been active in the pro-choice movement. She has opposed numerous bills limiting the options for abortion and has worked alongside activist Gloria Steinem to protest anti-choice legislation. She voted against the bill that would rescind funding for Planned Parenthood and has regularly supported funding for women’s health organizations.

Education: As a U.S. Senator, Gillibrand supported a bill that would make the cost of college tax deductible up to $10,000 and was involved in creating a system that would increase the number of Pell scholarships available to New York students. Gillibrand noted that she wants to create a better education system for low-income students and voted to spend 25 billion dollars on repairing elementary schools across the nation.

Healthcare: Gillibrand supported better funding for Medicare and Medicaid, and she has repeatedly voted in support of mental health initiatives and funding. Additionally, Gillibrand co-sponsored the single-payer Medicare-for-all initiative created by Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Immigration: Early in Gillibrand’s political career, she expressed a very conservative view on immigration. She supported to expand the funding for the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to increase and expedite the number of deportations. She has been criticized by many Democrats for having the same immigration stance as President Trump. However, Gillibrand states that her views have changed since her initial position as a member of the House of Representatives. She refers to her voting record as evidence of an evolution in her beliefs, as she has voted against border wall funding, an end to sanctuary cities, and the deployment of the U.S. National Guard to be stationed along the Southern border.

Environment: As a member of the Senate Committee of Environment and Public works, Gillibrand earned a lifetime score of 95% from the League of Conservation Voters, an organization that focuses on environmental issues and climate change legislation. She is a supporter of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal and the use of renewable energy.

Foreign Relations: Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Gillibrand initially supported the Israel Anti-Boycott Act after protests from her constituents and human rights organizations. She has criticized the actions President Trump has taken on Syria, stating that “unilateral military action by the U.S. in a Middle East conflict causes grave concern.”

Elizabeth Warren (D)

Abortion: Warren has established herself as pro-choice and voted against measures that would restrict abortion. She opposed the proposed 20-week abortion ban and opposed the opportunity to defund Planned Parenthood. Warren is an advocate for accessible forms of contraception and birth control. She was endorsed by Emily’s List, an organization dedicated to electing and endorsing Democratic women.

Environment: Warren is a self-proclaimed environmentalist and supports Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal. She has earned a lifetime score of 99% from the LCV and has been endorsed by both The Sierra Club and Clean Water Action, two leading environmental lobbyist groups.

Healthcare: Like many of her fellow Democrats, Warren supports the single-payer healthcare system. She sponsored the Consumer Health Insurance Protection Act, which would create opportunities for private healthcare companies to provide affordable private healthcare plans to individuals. This bill was declared to combat the profits private companies were making off of the Affordable Care Act.

Education: Warren supports universal preschool education and an increase in funding for public schools across the nation. She supports the College for All Act, an initiative to make college debt-free and affordable for the average American. She has notably criticized the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, for her actions on student loan and student aid. She created a program, DeVos Watch, which she claimed was to “hold Secretary DeVos’ Department of Education accountable to the public.”

Immigration: Warren has been a longtime critic of President Trump’s stance on immigration. She has continuously opposed his border wall plans and is a steady supporter of DACA, something that President Trump has repeatedly tried to repeal. Warren has advocated for the replacement of ICE with “something that reflects our morality and that works.”

Tax policy: Warren’s tax policy is focused on making “the rich pay taxes on accumulated wealth.” Her plan places a 2% tax on multi-millionaires with an additional 1% tax on individuals identified as billionaires. The tax plan would predominantly affect the top 0.1% of American citizens. The plan has raised questions on constitutionality, some declaring that it is unconstitutional for Congress to regulate direct taxes. However, the plan has still garnered bipartisan support.

Kamala Harris (D)

Abortion: Harris has a score of 100% from NARAL Pro-Choice America (the National Abortion Rights Action League), an influential lobbyist organization with the intention of expanding reproductive rights. During the hearing of Justice Kavanaugh, she infamously grilled him on abortion-related questions, attracting the attention of pro-choice organizations. She has spoken out about her support for Planned Parenthood, showing a “Defend Planned Parenthood” banner on her U.S. Senate election website.

Healthcare: Harris announced that she supports the elimination of private healthcare and wants to focus on healthcare funded by the federal government. She co-sponsored Sanders’ single-payer healthcare plan, stating that it was “the right thing to do.” Harris repeats that she believes “healthcare is a right, not a privilege.”

Environment: Harris criticized President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement, writing that it is an “irrational decision that is a disastrous step backward.” She has earned a lifetime score of 100% from the LCV, indicating a pro-climate voting record.

Criminal Justice Reform: Harris has come under fire for her past actions of criminal justice reform. Her record indicates that she supported keeping innocent people incarcerated even after they were declared to be “not guilty.” Her positions on the death penalty are also contradictory; she has a voting record that indicates support of both positions. Harris still claims that she is a progressive prosecutor, and a spokesperson has stated that “Kamala Harris has spent her career fighting for reforms in the criminal justice system and pushing the envelope to keep everyone safer by bringing fairness and accountability.”

Tax policy: Prior to declaring her presidential campaign, Harris’ primary focus was on middle-class tax relief. Now running for the presidency, she has reiterated the importance of her plan, the LIFT Middle Class Act. The act would increase tax benefits and credit returns for middle-class households, or families making less than $100,000 annually. The cost, currently still being calculated, has been worrisome to some members of the government, not wanting to increase the budget deficit.

Cory Booker (D)

Abortion: Cory Booker has declared that he is pro-choice and supports the decision of Roe v. Wade. He opposed restrictions on legal abortion and asserted that abortion must remain accessible for it to be safe. He voted to keep family planning clinics federally funded and opposed the option to defund Planned Parenthood.

Healthcare: Booker was a supporter of Obamacare and maintained the position that the destruction of Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act would hurt the working class. Booker supported Sanders’ initiative for a single-payer healthcare system, one of many to do so. However, he has stated that he believes private options should be available with public healthcare. When asked about whether or not he believes private healthcare should be eliminated, he responded, “Even countries that have vast access to publicly offered health care still have private health care, so no.”

Environment: With a lifetime score of 98% from the LCV, Booker’s record depicts his support for environmental issues. He is a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and recently endorsed Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal. He has announced that environmental protection will be a policy at the forefront of his campaign.

Education: Booker has supported legislation that would refinance student loans and decrease student loan debt. He supports alternatives and vouchers for those in inner-city education systems. Contrary to his party’s belief, he has promoted the idea of charter schools within his community as an alternative to the public school system.

Foreign Relations: Booker is a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. While serving on the committee, he proclaimed his support for Israel and “has proudly called for expanding American support for cooperative defense programs with Israel.” He has been critical of the U.S.’ relationship with Saudi Arabia and voted against arms sales to the country. Booker aligned with President Trump regarding the United States’ military involvement in Syria. He voted against a bill that would denounce Mr. Trump’s decision to remove soldiers from Syrian land.

Amy Klobuchar (D)

Environment: Prior to announcing her candidacy, Klobuchar declared her support for Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal. She has been a harsh opponent of President Trump’s environmental rhetoric and a large critic of his removal from the Paris Climate Agreement. During her announcement, she vowed to rejoin the agreement on her first day in office should she win the presidency. Klobuchar promised to reinstate the regulations on clean power rules, emphasizing the importance of managing emissions and reducing the effects of fossil fuels.

Healthcare: Sen. Klobuchar has been a leading advocate for decreasing the cost of prescription drugs. Her guest to the State of the Union was Nicole Smith-Holt, a mother whose son was killed after rationing his insulin to save money. She has proposed and supported numerous pieces of legislation that would lower the prices of generic medications and increase funding for medical research. She stated in her presidential bid announcement that she supports universal healthcare and making it a public entity.

Abortion: Klobuchar has earned a score of 100% from NARAL, signaling a pro-choice stance. She voted to against rescinding funds from Planned Parenthood and maintains a 100% score based on her congressional voting record.

Immigration: Unlike some of her Democratic colleagues, Klobuchar has not called for the abolishment of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). “We are always going to need immigration enforcement,” she stated. Klobuchar has emphasized the importance of immigration policy reform rather than the direct overhaul of the organization.

Education: Klobuchar has been a proponent of student loan reform and making college more accessible and affordable. She supports the expansion of alternative higher education, such as technical degrees and two-year degrees. Klobuchar has also been an advocate for decreasing the achievement gap in early education, supporting funding for impoverished communities. As a leader in STEM education, she increased STEM funding for K-12 schools around the country.

Campaign Finance: During her announcement, Klobuchar called for the complete overhaul of the Citizens United decision to uphold the use of soft money. She was a co-sponsor of an amendment that would declare the decision unconstitutional. She declared that she would not be accepting money from PACs or Super PACs during her campaign and will be completely relying on individual contribution.