If you want to hear a speech about Rep. Michael Huffington, listen to William E. Dannemeyer. If you want to hear a speech about Sen. Dianne Feinstein, listen to Huffington. The two leading candidates for the Republican nomination have had little direct confrontation. But there are plenty of differences between the two. Feinstein has done little active campaigning and hasn't joined in the campaign's debate over issues.
Both Republican candidates describe crime as one of the nation's most critical problems. Both favor the death penalty, both call for truth-in-sentencing laws and both support the "three strikes and you're out" law.
Unlike Huffington, Dannemeyer has not called for a deployment of more police on city streets. He believes society cannot have, at a reasonable cost, enough police to solve the crime problem. His solution is to supplement police with voluntary neighborhood patrols of armed citizens. He said citizens should have firearms training, although he acknowledges that the patrols could lead to mistaken shootings.
Also, unlike Huffington, who calls for more prisons, Dannemeyer suggests that the government study the possibility of housing its criminals in Third World countries to save money.
Huffington says money for more police and prisons can be found. "The preamble of the Constitution says to maintain domestic tranquillity," he said. "We don't have domestic tranquillity."
The two disagreed recently on banning assault weapons. Huffington voted in favor of the ban when it passed by one vote in the House. California gun groups immediately got behind the campaign for Dannemeyer, an opponent of the ban.
Both candidates have complained about the burden of illegal immigration. They want more resources to protect the integrity of the border and support a plan to prevent babies born in the United States to illegal immigrants from automatically becoming U.S. citizens.
Huffington believes the North American Free Trade Agreement, which he supported, will prove to be a deterrent to illegal immigration by improving Mexico's economy. Dannemeyer opposed NAFTA, criticizing the supranational authority it created.
Dannemeyer favors an initiative expected to be on California's November ballot that would deny illegal immigrants access to public schools and health benefits, except for emergency care. Huffington is undecided about public school access, but says health care should be limited to infectious diseases and emergencies.
Huffington has called for a tamper-proof national identification card to assist in denying welfare and other services to illegal immigrants. Dannemeyer opposes such a card, saying it would pose the potential for an improper invasion of privacy.
Dannemeyer supports employer sanctions, while Huffington thinks they are unfair to businesses without a tamper-proof national identification card. Even then, however, Huffington said he is uncertain whether that portion of immigration law is appropriate.
On the campaign trail and in television commercials, both candidates have portrayed the economy as a top priority. Both have also addressed the issue in the same broad and general themes: smaller government, lower taxes and fewer regulations.
Both have criticized the Clinton deficit reduction package. Dannemeyer has attacked Huffington for voting against the Republican alternative to Clinton's 1993 budget. Huffington has said, however, that he supported even deeper cuts.
While he served in Congress, Dannemeyer offered his own budget alternative to the House eight times. Its most innovative component is a plan to refinance the national debt with gold-backed bonds, ostensibly lowering interest rates. Dannemeyer contends that the savings, along with modest spending cuts, would be enough to balance the budget in about five years, lower taxes and provide more for defense.
Huffington has not been nearly as specific. In his campaign position paper, he lists four proposals to improve the California economy, including a lower capital gains tax, less regulation, support for fair trade and a promise to fight government bureaucracy.
Their differences on litmus-test social issues place Huffington and Dannemeyer at opposite edges of their party.
Dannemeyer is an abortion opponent and leader of the conservative Christian ranks. Huffington supports a woman's right to have an abortion, though he voted against federal funding of abortions for indigent women.
Huffington supported President Clinton's family leave act and his policy on gays in the military. Dannemeyer has attacked both votes.
Beyond those issues, Dannemeyer and Huffington have emphasized the need for a greater attention to moral values.
Both candidates want to reinstate voluntary school prayer.