Gov. Rick Perry has dropped out, but there are still four major contenders in the running to become the Republican presidential nominee. And one of them is a Texan. Use this updated interactive to compare the GOP candidates’ performances in the primaries so far, their histories and their stances on important issues. Scroll through the navigation bar or skip to a category to see their similarities and differences.
Primary Results |
Military Experience |
Cash on Hand |
Economy | Health Care Reform | Abortion | Death Penalty | Global Warming | Immigration Reform | Evolution | Same Sex Marriage
Iowa: 13.3% (16,163 votes)
New Hampshire: 9.4% (23,421 votes)
South Carolina: 41.5% (243,323 votes)
Iowa: 24.5% (29,805 votes)
New Hampshire: 39.3% (97,591 votes)
South Carolina: 28.8% (167,417 votes)
Iowa: 24.6% (29,839 votes)
New Hampshire: 9.4% (23,405 votes)
South Carolina: 17% (102,113 votes)
Iowa: 21.4% (26,036 votes)
New Hampshire: 22.9% (56,872 votes)
South Carolina: 13% (78,036 votes)
Gingrich represented a Georgia district in the U.S. House for two decades. He spent four of those years as speaker of the House in the 1990s; during that time, Congress passed a balanced budget. He is the primary author of the "Contract With America," a statement of policy plans, and he is often credited with helping the Republican Party regain a majority in the House for the first time in 40 years.
Romney, a management consultant, served as CEO of Bain & Company and then co-founded a spin-off investment firm, Bain Capital, that quickly made him a multimillionaire. In his first run at politics, Romney lost the 1994 Massachusetts U.S. Senate race to to incumbent Democrat Ted Kennedy. Romney was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2002 and did not seek re-election in 2006.
From 1990 to 2007, Santorum, of Pennsylvania, served in Congress as both a U.S. representative and senator. During that time, he authored and helped ensure passage of the Welfare Reform Act. Before his years in Congress, Santorum worked as a lawyer.
Paul, a former gynecologist and obstetrician who boasts of having delivered 4,000 babies, has served 12 terms in Congress representing Texas coastal communities.
Gingrich, 68, has been married three times. He has two daughters, both from his first wife, of 20 years. He is married to Callista Bisek, his former congressional aide.
Romney, 64, and his wife, Ann, have five grown sons, all of whom have joined him on the campaign trail.
Santorum, 53, and his wife, Karen, have been married 20 years. They have seven children: Elizabeth, John, Daniel, Sarah Maria, Peter, Patrick and Isabella.
Paul, 76, and his wife, Carol, have five children, all married with kids of their own. Paul's son, Rand, joined him in Congress in 2010 as a Republican senator from Kentucky.
Gingrich received a bachelor’s degree from Emory University and master’s and doctorate degrees in modern European history from Tulane University. He taught history and environmental studies at West Georgia College for eight years.
Romney attended Brigham Young University in Utah for his undergraduate degree and received dual law and business graduate degrees from Harvard University.
Santorum graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a bachelor of arts degree in political science and the University of Pittsburgh with a master’s degree in business administration. He also received a law degree in 1986 from Penn State.
Paul graduated from Gettysburg College with a degree in biology. He specialized in obstetrics/gynecology at the Duke University School of Medicine.
While a student at Tulane University, Gingrich received a draft deferment during the Vietnam War.
Romney has no military experience. He served as a Mormon missionary and was given a military deferment during the Vietnam War. He has said he longed to serve and regrets not having done so.
Santorum has not served in the U.S. armed forces.
Paul served in the Air Force and Air National Guard.
Formerly a Southern Baptist, Gingrich recently converted to Catholicism. He often joins his wife, a lifelong Catholic, at church. And he wrote the book Rediscovering God in America in 2006.
The Romney family has practiced Mormonism since the former governor's great-great-grandparents joined the church in 1841 after meeting its founder, Joseph Smith. When he was 19, Romney went on a 30-month mission trip to France.
Well-known for his religious views, Santorum is Catholic and has been endorsed by many conservative religious leaders. Time magazine listed him as one of the most influential evangelicals in America in 2005, calling him "the point man on Capitol Hill."
Paul was raised Lutheran but currently attends a conservative Baptist church. In an article titled "Christmas in Secular America," Paul wrote that "a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers."
During a GOP debate in December, Gingrich invoked the 10th Amendment to imply that the federal government should have the power to appoint people to local and state government committees in order to implement federal programs.
Romney has invoked the 10th Amendment to defend his health reform plan for Massachusetts, which some Republican opponents have compared to the federal reform they revile: “One thing I’d never do, by the way," Romney says, "is impose a one-size-fits-all policy on the nation.”
Santorum said he is "a strong supporter of the 10th Amendment," but he believes the federal government should be able to intervene if states are doing something wrong. He has cited gay marriage, saying the federal government has the right to ensure that states do not undermine "the basic fundamental values that hold this country together."
Paul has said that "true conservatives and libertarians should understand that the solution to our moral and cultural decline does not lie in a strong centralized government."
Gingrich's strategy includes eliminating the capital gains tax to give American entrepreneurs an advantage against foreign competitors, reducing the corporate income tax and ending the estate tax permanently. He's also interested in reforming entitlement programs and reducing government regulations on businesses to encourage job creation.
Forget a federal stimulus: Lower corporate taxes and increase foreign trade, reduce regulations on energy extraction to curb dependence on foreign oil, and reform entitlement programs to cut government spending.
Santorum was a proponent of the Keystone XL pipeline, saying it would create jobs. He also believes the U.S. should reduce its dependence on foreign oil by eliminating all bans on onshore and offshore drilling in the U.S. He also wants to simplify the tax code and roll back "job-killing" regulations.
Opposes many free-trade agreements and says fixed interest rates and Federal Reserve policies are the biggest contributors to unemployment.
Gingrich is in favor of giving states block grants to customize Medicaid programs to meet the states' needs. He plans to make health insurance more affordable by giving Americans with insurance a tax credit or the ability to make a new tax deduction.
Romney believes states should implement their own health care plans, like Massachusetts did when he was governor. Though his state's individual mandate has drawn comparisons to "Obamacare," 98 percent of Massachusetts residents now have health insurance at a cost of $350 million a year, or 1 percent of the state budget.
Santorum would promote the use of health savings accounts and high-deductible insurance plans. He wants to repeal the Affordable Health Care act and give the states block grants to operate their Medicaid programs.
Paul opposes federal health care reform and believes the U.S. should encourage free-market competition by putting "pressure on the providers" and forcing them to lower their costs to remain in business. He also supports allowing tax deductions for all health care costs.
Gingrich supports cutting funding for Planned Parenthood and opposes federal funding for abortion. In December 2011, he was among the presidential candidates who signed the Personhood USA pledge stating that he does not support exceptions for rape and incest in anti-abortion legislation.
Romney believes Roe v. Wade should be overturned so states can independently decide whether to outlaw abortion. He has angered some conservatives by not signing a pledge to appoint anti-abortion advocates to top federal positions. Romney campaigned in 1994 and 2002 as an abortion rights supporter but has since switched positions.
Santorum took a strong anti-abortion stance on more than one occasion in Congress. He opposes abortion under all circumstances and has signed the Personhood USA pledge, which states he does not support exceptions for rape and incest victims in anti-abortion legislation.
Paul is "strongly pro-life" and has said abortion could lead the country toward legalizing euthanasia, but he believes legalization of the practice should be left to individual states, not to the federal government.
Gingrich supports the death penalty. During his time as House speaker, Gingrich authored a bill — which failed to pass — that would have made smuggling more than 100 doses of an illegal drug across American borders a capital crime.
Romney unsuccessfully attempted to reinstate the death penalty in Massachusetts in 2005 and again in 2007.
"When there is certainty, that's the case that capital punishment can be used," Santorum said in an interview with Piers Morgan on CNN. "If there is not certainty, under the law, it shouldn't be used."
In 2007 Paul said he no longer believes in capital punishment because it "has been issued unjustly," even in cases with DNA evidence.
Gingrich takes a cautious stance on global warming, claiming that more research is needed on the issue. He is opposed to cap-and-trade agreements and any "large, government-centralized response" in reaction to climate change.
Romney says he believes the world is getting hotter but doesn't know "if it's mostly caused by humans." He opposes increasing regulations on emissions. "What I'm not willing to do is spend trillions of dollars on something I don't know the answer to," he has said.
Santorum has called research that points to human activities contributing to global warming "junk science," and he believes the U.S. should continue to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and elsewhere.
Paul backed tax incentives for clean energy development but wants environmental disputes settled by the states or the courts. He has supported Arctic drilling to increase U.S. energy independence but has opposed tax incentives for oil and gas drilling.
Gingrich says he would reform the complicated visa process to make a more efficient path to legal status. He supports controlling the border, creating a legal guest-worker program with anti-fraud protections and creating a path to legal citizenship for immigrants already in America illegally.
Romney has said the U.S. ought to build a border fence, outlaw "sanctuary cities" and keep employers from hiring illegal immigrants. He's in favor of creating an employment-verification system.
Santorum says the U.S. is vulnerable to drug cartels, violent criminals and terrorists along the border. He would expand the border fence and increase the use of technology to secure the border. He has said the current legal immigration process should be streamlined with reforms. He wants to create a guest-worker agricultural program.
Paul voted in favor of building a border fence to keep out immigrants from Mexico and has proposed a constitutional amendment to remove birthright citizenship. In 2007 Paul said he sees the "immigration problem as a consequence of our welfare state."
Gingrich remains ambiguous on this issue, even going so far as attempting to reconcile science-based and faith-based views. “Both can be true. I don’t think there is necessarily a conflict between the two,” he said in May.
Romney has said he believes God created the universe and that “evolution is most likely the process he used to create the human body.”
Santorum believes intelligent design should be taught in classrooms. He says it is legitimate science and that holes in the theory of evolution should be taught in classrooms.
"I think its a theory, the theory of evolution. And I don't accept it."
Gingrich signed the National Organization for Marriage pledge, which commits signees to backing a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court. In accordance with this pledge, the signee must also appoint judges and a U.S. attorney general who view marriage as between a man and a woman.
Although same-sex marriage is legal in Massachusetts, Romney signed a pledge to appoint officials, particularly judges, who oppose same-sex marriage. He has said he would defend the Defense of Marriage Act and has signed a pledge to support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
Santorum signed the National Organization for Marriage pledge and promised to support a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage throughout the country. He is also a vocal proponent of the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages authorized by states.
Paul believes same-sex marriage is an issue of personal liberty and should be left up to individual states. "While I oppose federal efforts to redefine marriage as something other than a union between one man and one woman, I do not believe a constitutional amendment is either a necessary or proper way to defend marriage."
Cameron Ingram and Paul Theobald contributed to this interactive.