Key issues and where the candidates stand

WASHINGTON, U.S. - This extremely volatile election campaign has so far been driven more by personality clashes than differences in policy. But what are the key issues, and where do Hillary ...

• This extremely volatile election campaign has so far been driven more by personality clashes

• Differences in policy barely came to the fore, covered under all the controversies

• Here's a lowdown

WASHINGTON, U.S. - This extremely volatile election campaign has so far been driven more by personality clashes than differences in policy. But what are the key issues, and where do Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump stand? Here's a lowdown.

Homegrown Terrorism

Hillary Clinton says Muslim-Americans may be the best defense against extremism in their communities. 

She says they can prevent the youth from joining jihadis and notify law enforcement when they hear of planned attacks or suspected radicalisation.

Clinton would prohibit people on terrorist watch lists from being able to purchase weapons. 

She also wants wider use of programs to identify signs of radicalisation and counter jihadi ideology.

Trump had controversially proposed a freeze on foreign Muslims entering the United States, though that would have done little to stop radicalised American citizens. 

On receiving criticism, he moderated his stand, if that's what you can call it, proposing a hold on immigration from areas of the world with a history of extremist violence against the U.S. and allies.


In one of his more controversial proposals, Trump has said he will build an impenetrable wall along the 2,000-plus-mile U.S.-Mexico border. 

He has also called for reductions in legal immigration and more stringent efforts to reduce the number of these migrants living in the U.S.

Clinton seems content to continue Obama's policy of unilateral executive actions normalising the immigration status of long-term undocumented residents of the U.S. and their immigration reforms that includes a means for undocumented immigrants to obtain permanent legal residency and, eventually, U.S. citizenship.

Foreign Policy

Trump's foreign policy strategy is unclear. He has repeatedly praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, also saying the U.S. must make allies in Europe and Asia should shoulder a greater share of the expense for their national defence. 

U.S. foreign policy must always prioritise American interests - for now, that's all he's clear about.

Clinton, as former secretary of state, has had extensive experience in foreign policy. 

She supported the U.S. war in Iraq - a position which she says she now regrets - and was one of the leading Obama administration advocates for the U.S. air campaign in Libya. 

The Democrat nominee also supports the continued presence of U.S. military troops in Afghanistan, and firmly backs the U.S. role in Nato.


Both parties generally agree infrastructure in the country is in need of an overhaul. 

Clinton wants to spend $250 billion over the next five years on public infrastructure and direct an additional $25 billion to a new infrastructure bank to help finance local projects. 

Trump has said he wants to spend at least double that amount on infrastructure, financed with bonds. 


Hillary Clinton's plan to deal with the ISIS seems far more focused. 

She has described a three-part strategy that involves crushing ISIS “on its home turf” in the Middle East, disrupting their infrastructure on the ground and online, and protecting America and its allies. 

She has vowed, “We are not putting ground troops into Iraq ever again. And we’re not putting ground troops into Syria. We’re going to defeat ISIS without committing American ground troops.”

Donald Trump, meanwhile, sticks to saying the U.S. is going to “bomb the hell” out of ISIS, not providing any more details, including whether he would increase U.S. airstrikes or commit ground troops. 

Trump has also said he believes in enhanced interrogation techniques, which can include waterboarding and other types of torture that are against the law.


Donald Trump has all along maintained too many jobs especially in manufacturing, are being lost to other countries. 

He plans to reduce the U.S. corporate tax rate to 15 percent from the current rate of 35 percent, and suggests that investing in infrastructure, cutting the trade deficit, lowering taxes and removing regulations will boost job creation. 

His target is to create 25 million jobs over ten years.

By increasing the taxation of wealthy Americans, Clinton plans to increase employment training. 

She wants to create jobs by investing in advanced manufacturing, technology, renewable energy, and small businesses. 

At the presidential debate she said experts had said her plan would create approximately ten million new jobs.


Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton supports access to abortion. 

She is an outspoken supporter of Planned Parenthood, which is the largest provider of abortions in the U.S. and also offers other health services.

Donald Trump has been somewhat inconsistent in his campaign statements on abortion. 

His pledge during the presidential debate to nominate Supreme Court justices who are open to curtailing abortions has earned him the support of anti-abortion leaders. 

His choice of Mike Pence, a staunch campaigner against abortion, as running mate, is also been viewed positively by anti-abortionists.

Climate Change

Both candidates have diametrically opposite views on climate change. 

Trump has repeatedly said that global warming is a hoax. 

He has called attempts to remedy global warming "just a very, very expensive form of tax." 

He has also said he would "cancel" the Paris Agreement and other international efforts to address the issue.

Clinton has proposed to spend $60 billion to switch from dirty fossil fuels to cleaner energy. 

She promises to deliver on President Barack Obama's pledge that by 2025, the U.S. will be emitting 30 percent less heat-trapping gases than in 2005. 

She upset some environmentalists, however, by refusing to back a moratorium on the extraction of oil from shale deposits through the process known as fracking.


Neither Clinton nor Trump has focused closely on the issue of debt. 

Trump has promised massive tax cuts that would drive up the debt.

Clinton, on the other hand, is proposing tax increases on the wealthy. 

She'd use the money on college tuition subsidies, infrastructure and health care, ignoring the steadily piling up debt.


Trump is clearly a supporter of the right to bear arms. 

He has proclaimed that if more "good guys" were armed there would be fewer gun tragedies. 

He's made fealty to the Second Amendment a quality he wants in Supreme Court nominees. 

Clinton wants to renew an expired ban on assault-type weapons instituted when her husband was president. 

She's also called for measures to ensure background checks are completed before a gun sale goes forward, mandating such checks for gun-show sales and repealing a law that shields gun manufacturers from liability.


“Obamacare” has offered healthcare to millions of people previously barred from being covered, however, it remains divisive, and premiums for next year are rising sharply in many communities. 

Hillary Clinton plans to continue Obama's policy on healthcare, adjusting it as required. 

Republicans are united on repealing Obama’s law, but it’s unclear how they would replace it.


Nationwide legality of same-sex marriage is unlikely to be threatened under both Democrats and Republicans. 

However, the election outcome could determine how aggressively federal agencies work to expand LGBT rights. 

Clinton would probably press efforts to bolster transgender rights.

Minimum Wages

Minimum wage has been among the key economic issues in the 2016 campaign. 

Clinton supports raising the minimum wage at least to $12 an hour, even higher at state and local levels. 

Trump has said he supports an increase to $10, but thinks states should decide. It currently is $7.25.


The Democrat presidential nominee wants to increase taxes for the wealthy. 

She has called for a four percent surtax on incomes over $5m, a boost in the capital gains tax, treating "carried interest" income earned by hedge fund managers as income and not capital gains, the closing of "tax loopholes" for the wealthy and an increase in the estate tax. 

She has also called for higher tax breaks for healthcare and education spending for middle-class families. 

A Tax Policy Center, analysis estimated that the top 1 percent would pay for roughly three-quarters of Clinton's tax increases.

Trump's plan includes reducing the number of tax brackets from seven to three, cutting corporate taxes, eliminating the estate tax and increasing the standard deduction for individual filers. 

According to the Tax Foundation analysis, the top 1 percent of earners would see their income increase by double-digits, while the bottom quarter gets a boost of up to 1.9 percent.

Wall Street Regulation

The goal behind the most radical overhaul of financial rules since the 1930s was to rein in high-risk practices on Wall Street and prevent another multibillion-dollar taxpayer bailout of banks. 

In 2010, regulators gained new tools to shut banks without resorting to bailouts. Risky lending was restricted. 

Republicans say the restrictions have raised costs for banks, especially smaller ones. 

They want the overhaul law repealed. Trump calls it a “disaster,” saying he would dismantle most of it.

Clinton says the financial rules should be preserved and strengthened.

Ties with Russia

Trump has complimented Russian President Vladimir Putin even going so far as to call him a better president than Obama. 

With Russia's return to the international stage with forces under Putin, the Republican seems keen on striking a relationship with the Russian leader.

Clinton, on the other hand, has a tougher stand. 

Having dealt with Putin directly in the past, she is wary of the Russian leader and promises to stand up to Putin and deter Russian aggression in Europe.

Ties with Iran

Obama's nuclear deal with Iran has reduced tensions with the country. 

Clinton supports the pact, although she's generally adopted a tougher tone on Iran than the current president. 

Trump is against deal. But he contends that he can renegotiate its terms.

The agreement curtailed Iran’s nuclear program, pulling it back from atomic weapons capability in exchange for the end of many economic sanctions.

Both are prepared to use force to prevent Tehran from acquiring the bomb.

Ties with China

Tensions have risen over China's authoritarian behavior in the seas surrounding Asia. 

China is also accused of unfair trade practices. 

Clinton says the U.S. needs to press the country to play by international rules, whether on trade or territorial disputes.

 Trump has accused China of undervaluing its currency to make its exports artificially cheap and proposes tariffs as high as 45 percent on Chinese imports if Beijing doesn't change its behavior. 

This, however, could risk a trade war that would make many products in the U.S. more expensive.

Palestine and Israel

In the course of this extremely turbulent presidential election, both candidates have disagreed on almost all issues, barring this one foreign policy matter they have in common – which is their unwavering support of Israel. 

Trump and Clinton have both met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and pledged full support for his government, and during their campaigns the candidates have promised to continue supporting Israel's military, which already gets more U.S. foreign aid than any other country.

As for the Palestinians, they seem to be caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place. 

Experts suggest harder times for Palestine if Clinton wins the election and it is clear that Clinton will not - as Obama did - be visiting any Arab capital with a proffered fig leaf. 

North Korea

Like Obama, Clinton wants sanctions against North Korea to increase, similar to Iran. 

Eventually, that opened the way for a deal to contain the country's nuclear program. 

Trump says the U.S. can put more pressure on China to rein in its North Korean ally. 

He says he is willing to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.


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