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Meet The Candidates In 100 Words And 60 Seconds

Have you spent most of this election cycle trying to ignore it? We don't blame you. But with primary voting now well under way, it might be time.

NPR's campaign reporters have spent months on the trail listening to and analyzing the candidates' movements, speeches and policy. But you don't need months, because three of those reporters — Tamara Keith, Don Gonyea and Sarah McCammon — have distilled what you need to know to just 100 words and 60 seconds. Click above or read — and listen — on:

The Republicans

Ben Carson

Dr. Ben Carson is a renowned pediatric neurosurgeon who performed historic surgery separating conjoined twins. Carson runs on that resume — an outsider who can pull together smart people to solve difficult problems. He rose in politics after criticizing President Obama's policies in a 2013 speech, with Obama two seats away. Carson's soft-spoken manner and Christian faith won him the admiration of many evangelicals. He rose as a prime challenger to Donald Trump in the fall and fell back when his lack of foreign policy experience became a vulnerability. Some advisers were quoted expressing concern about his mastery of the subject. — NPR's Sarah McCammon

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz is known for fiery rhetoric in the U.S. Senate and on the campaign trail. He is famously unpopular in Washington, but that's an asset this year, helping to boost Cruz to the top of the race. The Texan, born in Canada, campaigns as an outsider taking on Washington from the inside. Cruz claimed the mantle of religious liberty, and his evangelical following has been a source of strong fundraising and ground organization — especially in Iowa. Cruz's hawkish foreign policy message often focuses on a strong rebuke of President Obama for avoiding the phrase "radical Islamic terrorism." — NPR's Sarah McCammon

John Kasich

Ohio Gov. John Kasich can be brusque with voters and reporters, but he's very popular at home. He has overseen Ohio's economic recovery, pledging to bring job growth nationwide with reduced regulations and taxes. Kasich was the House budget chair in the mid-1990s and talks of balancing the federal budget with Bill Clinton. An establishment Republican, he has aggressively criticized Donald Trump. Kasich frequently notes that no Republican has ever won the White House without carrying Ohio, a place where he has always won. But Kasich's expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare and support of Common Core education standards as governor are nonstarters with conservatives. — NPR's Don Gonyea

Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio is the son of Cuban immigrants and the youngest candidate. He was elected to the Senate from Florida as a Tea Party favorite in 2010. He talks about building a 21st century economy to compete with China and aggressively argues that President Obama has been weak in fighting ISIS. A favorite of establishment Republicans for his potential to compete with Hillary Clinton, Rubio often promises to repeal Obama's executive orders and enforce the nation's immigration laws. But his role in crafting a 2013 immigration bill that included a path to citizenship is unacceptable to many conservatives. — NPR's Sarah McCammon

Donald Trump

Billionaire businessman Donald Trump's brand includes reality TV (The Apprentice, Miss Universe) and books (The Art of the Deal). He mixes bluntness with unapologetic bravado. After toying with a run for years, he now promises to "Make America Great Again." He's the best-known nonpolitician since Eisenhower to seek the GOP nomination. A surprisingly skillful campaigner who ignores political decorum, Trump's rhetoric on immigration ("deport them all") and terrorism ("bomb the s*** out of" ISIS and ban Muslims from entering the U.S.) draws fierce criticism while channeling the anger of his backers. It makes for a formidable, unpredictable candidate. — NPR's Don Gonyea

The Democrats

Hillary Clinton

A former secretary of state, New York senator and first lady, Hillary Clinton has been a polarizing figure since she entered the national stage in 1991. Supporters praise her experience, intelligence and longtime focus on women and girls; detractors question her accomplishments and exclusive use of a private email server for official business. Also, #Benghazi. Clinton ran for president in 2008, losing to Barack Obama in the primary. She went on to join Obama's administration and was in the situation room during the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. Clinton is a policy wonk who says her campaign will focus on fighting for middle-class families. — NPR's Tamara Keith

Bernie Sanders

Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders says he is leading a people-powered political revolution funded with small-dollar donations. His supporters say they #feelthebern. A self-described democratic socialist, Sanders made his name over 40 years in public life with a speech penned on a yellow legal pad about income inequality, the billionaire class and health care access. As Burlington mayor from 1981 to 1989, he prided himself on keeping streets well-plowed. In the U.S. House, and later the Senate, Sanders has advocated breaking up big banks, providing Medicare for all and free public college. Critics say Sanders' agenda would be impractical and prohibitively expensive. — NPR's Tamara Keith

Dropped Out

Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush would be the third member of his family to become president. That helps with organization and fundraising, but can be a burden given George W. Bush's legacy in Iraq and the 2008 economic crisis. It all makes him the classic "establishment Republican" just as "outsiders" are suddenly surging. Bush stresses his decades in private business and two terms as Florida governor, featuring job growth, tax cuts and education reforms. He highlights his conservative record as a governor who could get things done, but Bush's support for immigration reform and Common Core education standards is loathed by conservative activists. — NPR's Don Gonyea

Chris Christie

Chris Christie, twice-elected in the blue state of New Jersey, boasts that as governor he has been accountable for results. He took on teachers unions and starred in YouTube videos of his combative town halls. An in-your-face success story was beset by scandal. Traffic lanes on a bridge into New York were closed in an apparent act of retaliation against a local mayor. Christie wasn't implicated, but his presidential cachet was tarnished. Christie promises to provide strong, decisive leadership that he says President Obama lacks. A contender in New Hampshire, Christie is seen by many conservatives as too moderate. — NPR's Don Gonyea

Carly Fiorina

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is the only woman running for the Republican nomination. She has been casting herself as a conservative alternative to Democrat Hillary Clinton, often drawing applause for telling audiences how much she'd love to debate Clinton. Fiorina is running as an experienced business leader who will take on Washington from the outside. She presents herself as hawkish on foreign policy and talks about meeting many world leaders during her time in the business world. Her record at HP has drawn scrutiny, particularly the tens of thousands of layoffs that occurred on her watch. --NPR's Sarah McCammon

Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee is the second-most-famous politician to come from tiny Hope, Ark. That's hardly faint praise considering that the titleholder is Bill Clinton. Huckabee's resume is as impressive as it is unusual: radio DJ (at age 14), Baptist preacher, lieutenant governor and governor of Arkansas, rock 'n' roll musician, best-selling author, presidential candidate, 2008 Iowa caucus winner, syndicated radio talk show host and anchor of Fox News program Huckabee. Now 60 years old and making his second presidential run, Huckabee mixes economic populism that often breaks with GOP orthodoxy and with conservative Christian views on social issues. — NPR's Don Gonyea

Rand Paul

Like many in 2016, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul runs against Washington. Paul advocates shrinking the federal government and says his career as an ophthalmologist shows he's not a career politician. He hoped to unite the libertarian wing of the GOP with other factions and build on the success of his father, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul. But Paul upset many libertarians by supporting increases in military spending as a senator. On the other hand, his foreign policy is also out of step with many GOP voters in the age of ISIS. He's had to shake the label of isolationist. — NPR's Sarah McCammon

Rick Santorum

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum likes being the underdog. In 2012, a late surge gave him a victory in Iowa, making him a contender against Mitt Romney. So he can say he fought the GOP establishment, despite a long career in Washington. A strong social conservative, Santorum's blue-collar economic pitch calls for protecting U.S. manufacturing. Santorum often cites his Italian immigrant father as having come to the U.S. "the right way" while railing against illegal immigration. He claims the strongest foreign policy credentials in the race from his time in the Senate, urging a fight against "radical Islam." — NPR's Don Gonyea

Martin O'Malley

Former two-term Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has struggled to gain traction with voters. His pitch focuses on his relative youth, progressive policy positions and long record of executive experience. O'Malley was mayor of Baltimore from 1999 to 2007, instituting tough-on-crime policies some see as the root of today's problematic relationship between the city's residents and police. O'Malley is proudly Irish-American and plays guitar (often in a sleeveless T-shirt) with a folk rock band. In rolled-up shirtsleeves at low-key events, O'Malley hopes to replicate the surprise 1984 surge of his old boss Gary Hart in New Hampshire. — NPR's Tamara Keith

NPR's Will Huntsberry contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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