WASHINGTON (AP) - Here's where the 2012 Republican presidential candidates stand on a selection of issues.
They are former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
Gingrich: Platform calls for conservative judges and no subsidies for abortion but not for constitutional abortion ban.
Paul: Says federal government should have no authority either to legalize or ban abortion. Yet signed pledge to advance only anti-abortion appointees for relevant administration jobs, cut off federal dollars for clinics that perform or finance abortions, and support a ban on abortions after the fetus reaches a certain stage in development.
Romney: Opposes abortion rights. Previously supported them. Says state law should guide abortion rights, and Roe v. Wade should be reversed by a future Supreme Court. But says Roe vs. Wade is law of the land until that happens and should not be challenged by federal legislation seeking to overturn abortion rights affirmed by that court decision. Would not sign pledge to advance only anti-abortion appointees for relevant administration jobs, cut off federal dollars for clinics that perform or finance abortions, and support a ban on abortions after the fetus reaches a certain stage in development. "So I would live within the law, within the Constitution as I understand it, without creating a constitutional crisis. But I do believe Roe v. Wade should be reversed to allow states to make that decision."
Santorum: Abortion: Favors constitutional abortion ban and opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest because "I would absolutely stand and say that one violence is enough." Previously supported right to abortion in cases of rape, incest and to save the life of the mother. Says he wouldn't try to take away the pill or condoms but states should be free to ban contraception if they want.
Gingrich: As House speaker in mid-1990s, engineered passage of a seven-year balanced-budget plan. It was vetoed by President Bill Clinton but helped form a bipartisan balanced budget two years later. Supports constitutional balanced budget amendment. Said that without a balanced budget, the U.S. had no choice but to raise its debt limit in the deal that avoided a default.
Paul: Would eviscerate federal government, slashing nearly half its spending, shut five Cabinet-level agencies, end spending on existing conflicts and on foreign aid.
Romney: Defended 2008 bailout of financial institutions as a necessary step to avoid the system's collapse, opposed the bailout of General Motors and Chrysler and said any such aid should not single out specific companies. Cap federal spending at 20 percent of gross domestic product, down from today's recession-swollen 25 percent. Stayed silent on the debt-ceiling deal during its negotiation, only announcing his opposition to the final agreement shortly before lawmakers cast their votes. Instead, endorsed GOP "cut, cap and balance" bill that had no chance of enactment. Favors constitutional balanced budget amendment. Proposes 10 percent cut in federal workforce, elimination of $1.6 billion in Amtrak subsidies and cuts of $600 million in support for the public arts and broadcasting.
Santorum: Freeze social and military spending for five years to cut $5 trillion from federal budgets. Opposed the financial-industry bailout and stimulus programs of the Bush and Obama administrations as well as the auto bailout. Supports constitutional balanced budget amendment holding federal spending at no more than 18 percent of GDP, down from the current recession-swollen 25 percent.
Gingrich: Repeal the 2010 financial industry and consumer protection regulations that followed the Wall Street meltdown, and repeal the 2002 regulations enacted in response to the Enron and other corporate and accounting scandals. Restrict the Fed's power to set interest rates artificially low. Make work training a condition of unemployment insurance and have states run it.
Paul: Return to the gold standard, eliminate the Federal Reserve, let gold and silver be used as legal tender, eliminate most federal regulations.
Romney: Lower taxes, less regulation, balanced budget, more trade deals to spur growth. Replace jobless benefits with unemployment savings accounts. Proposes repeal of the (Dodd-Frank) law toughening financial-industry regulations after the meltdown in that sector. Proposes changing, but not repealing, the (Sarbanes-Oxley) law tightening accounting regulations in response to corporate scandals, to ease the accountability burden on smaller businesses. "We don't want to tell the world that Republicans are against all regulation. No, regulation is necessary to make a free market work. But it has to be updated and modern."
Santorum: Spur jobs by eliminating corporate taxes for manufacturers, drill for more oil and gas, and slash regulations. Repeal every Obama-era regulation that costs business more than $100 million a year. "You may have to replace a few, but let's repeal them all because they are all antagonistic to businesses, particularly in the manufacturing sector."
Gingrich: "Dramatically shrink the federal Department of Education, get rid of virtually all of its regulations." But supported Obama administration's $4 billion Race to the Top grant competition for states, which encourages compliance with national education standards, because it also promotes charter schools.
Paul: Abolish the Education Department and end the federal role in education.
Romney: Supported the federal accountability standards of No Child Left Behind law. In 2007, said he was wrong earlier in his career when he wanted the Education Department shut because he came to see the value of the federal government in "holding down the interests of the teachers' unions" and putting kids and parents first.
Santorum: Voted for sweeping No Child Left Behind education overhaul, now says he regrets doing so. Wants "significantly" smaller Education Department but not its elimination. Criticized early childhood education programs as an attempt by government to "indoctrinate your children."
Gingrich: Let oil and natural gas industries drill offshore reserves now blocked from development, end restrictions on Western oil shale development. In Alaska alone, "We could liberate an area the size of Texas for minerals and other development."
Paul: Remove restrictions on drilling, coal and nuclear power, eliminate gasoline tax, provide tax credits for alternative fuel technology.
Romney: Accelerate drilling permits in areas where exploration has already been approved for developers with good safety records. Supports drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic and Pacific outer continental shelves, Western lands, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and offshore Alaska; and supports exploitation of shale oil deposits. Reduce obstacles to coal, natural gas and nuclear energy development. Says green power has yet to become viable.
Santorum: Favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and scaling back "oppressive regulation" hindering drilling elsewhere. Eliminate energy subsidies in four years.
Gingrich: Convert EPA into an "environmental solutions agency" devoted to scientific research and "more energy, more jobs and a better environment simultaneously." Supported tougher environmental regulation early in congressional career.
Paul: In 2008, said "human activity probably does play a role" in global warming and part of the solution should be to stop subsidizing the oil industry and let prices rise until the free market turns to alternate energy sources. Now calls the science on manmade global warming a "hoax." Says emission standards should be set by states or regions, not Washington.
Romney: Spending a fortune to cut the emissions linked to global warming "is not the right course for us." Has acknowledged the scientific consensus that humans contribute to global warming: "I believe the world is getting warmer, and I believe that humans have contributed to that." But now says: "My view is that we don't know what's causing climate change on this planet." Proposes to remove carbon dioxide from list of pollutants controlled by Clean Air Act, and amend clean water and air laws to ensure the cost of complying with regulations is balanced against environmental benefit. Says cap and trade would "rocket energy prices."
Santorum: The science establishing human activity as a likely contributor to global warming is "patently absurd" and "junk science."
Gingrich: If the Defense of Marriage Act fails, "you have no choice except a constitutional amendment" to ban gay marriage. Under the act, the federal government does not recogniz