Aug. 12, 2015

Candidates Scorecard: Where Did They Come From?

Candidates Scorecard: Where Did They Come From?

By Marc Platt

You can’t tell the players without a scorecard. We hear their stories with the spin they choose to tell that story with. The facts may tell a different story and this is your chance to know at least some of the facts before it starts getting really crazy in the presidential campaign season.

Where did the 21 originally-announced candidates come from? What is their background? Some come from privilege, some come from humble beginnings. Let’s take a quick look at where these women and men started from in life.

Former Secretary of State (D) Hillary Rodham Clinton grew up as a conservative Republican in a household that advocated political activism. In 1960, it was a very young Hillary Rodham who idolized her conservative Republican father Hugh Rodham (a textile magnate), helping him canvas the south side of Chicago during the very close Richard Nixon-JFK presidential election. She had a teenage crush on Richard Nixon and was devastated when he lost that very close election to John F. Kennedy. That was Hillary’s first taste of big time presidential politics. Four years later Hillary was back at it  campaigning for Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, the uber-right wing Republican conservative running for President against incumbent LBJ. Rodham and his daughter were heavily involved in the Goldwater campaign in 1964. Hillary was a “Goldwater Girl,” and wore an outfit along with other young enthusiastic female supporters. Fast forward to 2015 and the former First Lady, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State is seeking the DEMOCRATIC presidential nomination for the United States as a candidate herself.

Businessman (R) Donald J. Trump is certainly an enigma in this 2016 presidential cycle. Trump comes from a background of great privilege. His Scottish mother Mary Anne and New York real estate magnate Fred Trump raised their five children in New York. He attended the best schools ending up at Wharton’s business school, after two years at Fordham. His business background has made him a billionaire many times over. Trump has gained and lost billions in his decades-long career and become a celebrity with countless television appearances and his own NBC “Apprentice” series. Politically-speaking Trump has aligned himself with both liberal and conservative stances on many issues throughout the years, contributing to Democrats and Republicans in the process.

Former Florida Governor (R) John Ellis (Jeb) Bush certainly comes from a privileged background, his father George H.W. Bush being a Texas oilman and himself the son of a U.S. Senator (Prescott Bush, Connecticut), U.S. Congressman, Director of C.I.A., U.S. Vice President and U.S. President (#41). His brother George W. Bush was the 43rd U.S. President. Jeb Bush decided to attend the University of Texas at Austin, instead of Yale University like his father and brother. Jeb Bush served two full terms as Governor of Florida and as a Wall Street executive before deciding to run for U.S. President himself for the 2016 election cycle.

U.S. Vermont Senator (I) Bernie Sanders’ father was a Jewish immigrant from Poland, who lost members of his family in the Holocaust. His mother was from working-class Jews in New York. He was a high school star athlete who attended Brooklyn College and then the University of Chicago where he earned a BA degree in political science. Bernie Sanders was heavily involved in the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s and worked various jobs after moving to Vermont. His involvement in politics began in Vermont where he eventually won four two-year terms as mayor of Burlington, Vermont. Bernie Sanders has served in the United States Senate since 2007 as an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats, after serving as a United States Congressman for 16 years.

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO(R) Carly Fiorina  dropped out of UCLA Law School in 1976 and took a job at a real estate firm called Marcus & Millichap and worked her way up the ladder to become a broker. Fiorina left that company in 1980 to become a management trainee at AT&T, later rising through the ranks to become a senior vice president overseeing the company's hardware and systems division. She later became the first woman to head a Fortune 20 as CEO of Hewlett-Packard.

U.S. Florida Senator (R) Marco Rubio was born in Florida  to Cuban immigrants who left Cuba in 1956 before the rise of Fidel Castro. Rubio had to fend off political flak for giving the impression that his parents fled the Castro regime in 1959. These charges came after he won his successful senatorial seat in the 2010 election cycle. It is true that Rubio came from a working-class background who lived paycheck to paycheck and that he also paid off his $100,000 in student loans, which are a big part of his political narrative. Rubio served as Florida’s Speaker of the House in the state house.

U.S. Texas Senator(R) Ted Cruz was born in Alberta, Canada in 1970 to an upper-middle class father who was Cuban-born and a mother of Irish & Italian descent. His parents owned a seismic-data processing firm in the oil drilling business in Canada. He was given a top-rate education graduating cum laude from Princeton University, as well as getting his law degree from Harvard University. Cruz graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and went on to clerk for Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Whether people agree or disagree with Ted Cruz politically, it would be hard to argue his legal credentials, which are similar to the man currently residing in the White House.

New Jersey Governor (R) Chris Christie is of German, Irish and Scottish descent. His parents are Sondra and his certified public accountant father Wilbur. Chris started his political ascent early in life at Livingston High School where he was voted class president. His democratic-leaning mother actually encouraged her son to volunteer in the gubernatorial campaign of Republican Tom Kean, being inspired after he heard Kean speak at his high school. This would become a huge turning point for Chris Christie who would go on to Seton Hall Law School and into the New Jersey legal community and the statewide politics in New Jersey. He later was appointed U.S. Attorney by George W. Bush in December, 2001.

Former Maryland Governor (D) Martin O’Malley served both as Democratic mayor of Baltimore and Maryland Governor. His father was a fighter pilot in World War II and witnessed the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima in 1945, before going on to serve as a criminal defense lawyer and later United States Attorney General for the District of Columbia. Martin O’Malley attended the Catholic University of America as an undergrad before moving on to the University of Maryland’s School of Law and passing the bar in 1982.

Former Arkansas Governor (R) Mike Huckabee has been a pastor and Arkansas governor, as well as Fox News TV host who started his rise from a working-class background that has served his religiously-based evangelical style. Huckabee’s father Dorsey and mother Mae were both conservative Southern Democrats at a time in Arkansas when civil rights was opposed by Southern Democrats in America. Mike Huckabee at age 21 was a staff member for televangelist James Robison, which spurred him on to getting his own congregation in 1980. He worked his way up the political ladder through entrepreneurial ventures as a TV station owner and then later in Arkansas politics serving first as Lt. Governor and then Arkansas Governor.

Ohio Governor (R) John Kasich’s father (a Czech) was a mailman and his mother was of Croatian descent. His humble beginnings have paved the way for a career both as a public servant and in the private sector. Young Kasich was savvy enough to earn a meeting with President Nixon in 1970 after writing Nixon a letter of admiration when he was a freshman at Ohio State University.  He earned his political science degree and slowly worked his way into position after position in Ohio state politics. In 1982, after a career in state politics, he easily defeated an incumbent congressman and began his national political career and is currently serving his second term as Governor of Ohio.

Former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator (R) Rick Santorum was born to an immigrant Italian father Aldo who came to America at the age of 7 to go on and become an accomplished clinical psychologist working in the military field. His mother an administrative nurse Catherine was also of Italian/Irish descent. His family lived in an apartment provided by the Veterans Administration. Santorum attended Penn State University. After college Santorum started volunteering for Pennsylvania Senator John Heinz and worked his way through the political landscape of that state before becoming a U.S. Congressman and later U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania. Santorum finished second to Mitt Romney in the GOP 2012 cycle winning 11 states in the primaries.

(R)  Dr. Ben Carson has never run for political office before entering the GOP race for President of the United States. The famed neurosurgeon began life in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Sonya and Solomon Carson, a Seventh-day Adventist minister. Carson came from an upper middle-class background that afforded him opportunities in life such as attending Yale as a psychology undergrad, the University of Michigan medical school and Johns Hopkins Hospital where he completed his residency in neurosurgery.

Kentucky U.S. Senator (R) Dr. Rand Paul (ophthalmologist) is the son of former Texas U.S. Congressman Ron Paul and his mother Carol, who raised Rand and his five siblings in Midland, Texas. His father Ron is also a physician. Rand Paul was given a lot of advantages early in life and followed his Libertarian-leaning father into politics and became a Tea Party darling in his adopted state of Kentucky, where he ascended through Kentucky’s conservative political machinery, taking time off to help his father’s presidential campaign in 2008 and 2012. He was elected to the U.S. Senate himself in 2010. It is the only elective office he has held.

Louisiana Governor (R) Bobby Jindal was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to Amar and Raj Jindal, immigrants from Malerkotla, Punjab, India. He was raised Hindu, but converted to Catholicism and maneuvered his way through Louisiana politics after becoming a Political Science Rhodes Scholar at Oxford in England. President George W. Bush appointed Jindal to be Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Planning and Evaluation in March, 2001. He left that post in 2003 to run for Louisiana Governor and won that election and has been in that post ever since.

Former Texas Governor(R) Rick Perry (a former Democrat)is a fifth-generation Texan whose parents were cotton farmers. His father Joe was a Democrat and also happened to be a long-time Haskell County commissioner and also a member of the school board. Rick Perry attended Texas A&M University and worked various jobs before enlisting in the Air Force in 1974. After his three years in the Air Force, he moved back home to help his father on the cotton farm. He served in the Texas House of Representatives as a Democrat. In 1989, Perry switched parties joining a political alliance with Karl Rove, who would also go on to guide George W. Bush’s career and the rest is history. He served as Bush’s Lt. Governor in Texas before his 14 years as Texas Governor.

Former Rhode Island Governor (D) Lincoln Chafee also used to be a Republican career politician before leaving the GOP. Chafeecomes from a privileged political background himself, having several descendants (father John Chafee, great uncles Henry Lippitt and Charles Warren Lippett) also having served as Rhode Island governors. Another Great Uncle Henry Frederick Lippitt was a U.S. Senator from Rhode Island, as did Lincoln’s father John, who also served as a U.S. Senator from Rhode Island. Lincoln Chafee began his own political career first as a Republican delegate from Rhode Island and later was mayor of Warwick Rhode Island, U.S. Senator from Rhode Island and finally served as an Independent Governor of Rhode Island from 2011-2015. He is seeking the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2016.

Former New York Governor (R) George Pataki is the oldest entrant at 70 years old into the GOP field. Pataki is of Hungarian descent and his father was a mail carrier. George worked very hard as a young man and eventually made his way to Yale Law School with George W. Bush during the mid-1960s. He went on to practice law and maneuver his way through New York state politics, serving as Mayor of Peekskill, New York state assembly, New York Senate and finally as two-term Governor of New York.

Former Virginia Governor (R) Jim Gilmore was a very late entrant into the Republican field. The former Virginia governor, Virginia Attorney General and former Republican Party Chairman was born in Virginia to a church secretary mother Margaret and James, a grocery store meat cutter. Gilmore made his way to the national stage by way of the military, enlisting and then entering law school at the University of Virginia in the mid-1970’s.

Former Virginia U.S. Senator (D) Jim Webb used to be a Republican and served as United States Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan and later as a Republican-elected U.S. Senator from Virginia. He grew up in a military family residing in many locations, his father having flown in World War II and later being a highly-respected military career lifer. After attending more than 12 schools because of his family moving a lot, he ended up at USC Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship, which started him on a course for his own military career. He was wounded in Vietnam and later (2005) married his third wife, a Vietnamese refugee Hong Lee.

It is so early in the process and there will be many defections and a few possible additions to the field of candidates.