WASHINGTON — The Republican presidential contest has been aflutter for months, but now it’s time for the Democrats to spread their wings before a big national audience. Use this handy field guide to get a handle on the candidates and where they stand.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON
Key features: Nearly everybody recognizes her. She’s the only candidate who’s lived in the White House already, as first lady.
A quick sketch:
— Daughter of a fabric store owner and a homemaker living in the Chicago suburbs
— Met her future husband and future president, Bill Clinton, at Yale Law School
— After serving as first lady, elected to U.S. Senate from New York
— Early Democratic front-runner in ’08, she lost presidential nomination to Barack Obama
— Won both praise and criticism as Obama’s first secretary of state
Also of note:
A steady drip is wearing on Clinton’s air of invincibility as the front-runner for the Democratic nomination. The troubles include Clinton using a personal email account and server while at the State Department; the fatal attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, on her watch; and big donations from foreigners and political supporters to the Clinton family’s charitable foundation.
Might Clinton be for you?
Perhaps yes, if you prefer a Democrat but with a more aggressive foreign policy than Obama.
Perhaps no, if you want a candidate who isn’t already mired in investigations (Benghazi, and therefore emails).
Some other distinguishing issues:
— Wants to make public universities affordable and community colleges tuition-free
— Wants to build on Obama’s health care law and lower the costs of prescription drugs and insurance deductibles
— Opposes an Obama initiative that she once supported: the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal
In a nutshell:
Establishment. Early favorite. Second-timer.