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Comparison between Barack Obama and John McCain

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Comparison between Barack Obama and John McCain

            Senators Barack Obama and John McCain, who are the two candidates in the United States presidential elections in November 2008, both have significant similarities and differences particularly on political and national issues. Barack Obama is the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party of the US while John McCain is the presidential nominee of the Republican party. However, possibly one of the most notable differences between them is their race. Obama, a Senator from Illinois, is the first African-American or black to be nominated as a candidate for the Office of the President.

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On the other hand, McCain, who is a Senator from Arizona, like all the past American presidents, belongs to the white race.

            In terms of age, both presidential candidates also differ significantly. Obama, who was born on August 4, 1961 and 47 years of age (BarackObama.com, 2008) is younger than McCain who was born August 29, 1936 and is 72 years old (JohnMcCain.com, 2008). Although age has never been a major consideration during American elections, there are issues regarding the health of Sen.

McCain due to his old age. On the other hand, due to Obama’s relatively young age, there are certain doubts as to whether or not he has enough experience to hold the most powerful position in the world.

Moreover, the backgrounds and early lives of both Obama and McCain also differ significantly. Sen. Obama was born to a poor family and was virtually raised by his grandparents and his mother in Kansas. In order to put himself through school, he used several loans. He then earned his degree in law in Harvard in 1991 and became the first president of the Harvard Law Review who is an African American (BarckObama.com, 2008). Sen. McCain, on the other hand, has a rich military heritage as both his paternal grandfather and father were Navy Admirals with four-star ranks in the United State. He himself is a military and war veteran as he went to college at the United States Naval Academy and served in the Vietnam War as a naval aviator (JohnMcCain.com, 2008). During the war, his plane was shot down in Northern Vietnam and he was subsequently held as a prisoner of war by the Vietnamese. As a prisoner, he was subjected to repeated torture because he refused to cooperate with his Vietnamese captors, who wanted to extract valuable information from him. After more or less five and half years as a prisoner, McCain was released in 1973 (JohnMcCain.com, 2008).

Generally, both presidential candidates have largely different stands on major issues in the United States. Possibly, one of the most significant differences in this aspect is their views on the country’s economy, which is a crucial concern as it has been on a downslide for the past several months. Obama would remove nearly all of the tax cuts placed by current US president George Bush such as the capital gains taxes, and give what he calls “middle class tax cuts” that range from $500 to $1,000 (Whittington, 2008). He is also against fresh free trade initiatives in most part of Latin America and has promised to make major investments on education, basic science, and technology, among others. In addition, Obama would also give relief to homes that are tangled in the credit crunch on housing, hunt down on illegal credit card practices and enlarge the family leave act if he is elected president (Whittington, 2008).

McCain, on the other hand, would retain all of the tax cuts imposed by president Bush and remove the Alternate Minimum Tax (Whittington, 2008). He would also double the amount of personal exemption for dependents, reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 per cent to 25 per cent and establish a new tax credit for research and development in the United States. Moreover, unlike Obama, McCain would support most free trade iniatives (Whittington, 2008).

In terms of foreign trade policies, both Obama and McCain want the country to engage more in international trade as this would boost the American economy. Both presidential candidates intends to limit the barriers in trade and create effective global trading rules that would not only benefit the US but other countries as well (Diffen.com, 2008). However, the main difference between their international trade policies is that Obama’s thrust would be on making the succeeding generation of American workers more competitive through strengthening the quality of education while McCain focus would be on boosting the economy and providing more jobs for Americans (Diffen.com, 2008).

Another major difference between the two presidential hopefuls is their views on the country’s foreign policies and international relations, particularly on the war in Iraq. When the United States Congress passed a Senate resolution that would authorize the Iraq war in 2002, Obama voted against the war while McCain voted in favor of it, which shows that both have significantly different views on the matter (Diffen.com, 2008). In general, Obama has vocally opposed the war and has repeatedly said that he would call for the withdrawal of the American troops who are in Iraq if he is elected president. He would instead resort to “diplomatic means” to resolve conflicts with other countries (Whittington, 2008). McCain, on the other hand, wants to retain the American soldiers in Iraq and said that it would be wrong to pull out the troops before Al-Qaida, an international terrorist organization, is defeated (Diffen.com, 2008). Moreover, both also have different views on the threat of Iran, which is a country that is reportedly amassing nuclear weapons. Obama believes that Iran is not a real threat to the security of the United States while McCain believes that the country should not be underestimated. In addition, Obama, as mentioned above, would use diplomatic means to confront the threat while McCain would form alliances with other European countries to put pressure on Iran to cease its nuclear activities (Diffen.com, 2008).

In short, while both Obama and McCain have plans and views that they believe would provide a promising future for the United States, their methods of achieving their objectives are drastically different from one another. Obama can be considered the more diplomatic presidential candidate while McCain is the more aggressive one.


BarackObama.com. (2008). Barack Obama and Joe Biden: The Change We Need. Retrieved September 11, 2008 from http://www.barackobama.com/index.php.

Diffen.com. (2008). Barack Obama vs. John McCain. Retrieved September 11, 2008 from http://www.diffen.com/difference/Barack_Obama_vs_John_McCain#Differences_in_Economic_Policy.

JohnMcCain.com. (2008). McCain-Palin 2008. Retrieved September 11, 2008 from http://www.johnmccain.com/About/.

Whittington, M. (2008). John McCain vs. Barack Obama on the Issues. Associated Content Retrieved September 11, 2008 from http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/804207/john_mccain_vs_barack_obama_on_the.html.


Cite this Comparison between Barack Obama and John McCain

Comparison between Barack Obama and John McCain. (2016, Sep 05). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/comparison-between-barack-obama-and-john-mccain/

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