GOP debate No. 3: A guide to the Republican 2016 candidates

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — There's an angry young man who matured into an eternally mellow surgeon and politician. A Hispanic firebrand who is most at home in English, and an Anglo who speaks fluent Spanish at home. And that given-to-preening reality show guy.

Some birds of a different feather will flock to the Republican presidential debate stage in Boulder, Colorado.

Here's a field guide to candidates in Wednesday night's main event on CNBC:


Key features: Billionaire real estate developer, author and reality TV star with the catchphrase, "You're fired!"

A quick sketch:

—Son of wealthy builder in the New York City borough of Queens

—Prospered in family business while studying economics at the University of Pennsylvania

—"The Donald" gained fame as splashy Manhattan developer of hotels, skyscrapers and golf courses around the world

—Considered Reform Party presidential run in 2000; flirted with GOP bid in 2012

—Starred in reality TV shows "The Apprentice" and "Celebrity Apprentice"

Also of note:

The front-runner is rich enough to pay for his own campaign — and brags about that — but 74,000 donors showered him with nearly $4 million in small-dollar contributions, July through September.

Might Trump be for you?

Perhaps yes, if you want a president who says what he thinks even if people take offense

Perhaps no, if you want a president with experience as an elected official.

Some other distinguishing issues:

—Build a wall along the Mexican border to stop illegal immigration

—Deport all immigrants in the U.S. illegally; allow what he calls 'the good ones' to return legally

—Impose high tariffs on imports from China and Mexico to demand better treatment of the U.S.

In a nutshell:

Political outsider. Celebrity. Billionaire.



Key features: Famed pediatric neurosurgeon whose life story was made into a TV movie.

A quick sketch:

—Raised in Detroit by a divorced, impoverished mother

—29 years as director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, now retired

—First surgeon to successfully separate twins joined at the head

—Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

—Enhanced his conservative cred with political remarks at 2013 National Prayer Breakfast

Also of note:

Carson has said that the scientific theory of evolution is based on "incredible fairy tales." He's a creationist who espouses beliefs based on his Seventh-day Adventist faith. The strikingly soft-spoken Carson says he was a hot-tempered teen who tried to stab a friend but woke up to his volatility and changed.

Might Carson be for you?

Perhaps yes, if you want a doctor to fix the nation's health care policy.

Perhaps no, if you're looking for someone with political experience and seasoned rhetoric. Carson once compared President Barack Obama's health care law to slavery.

Some other distinguishing issues:

—Impose the same flat income tax on everyone

—Ban abortion even in cases of rape or incest.

—Add a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution

In a nutshell:

Christian conservative. Doctor. Only African-American contender.



Key features: Florida senator who teamed with Democrats on an immigration overhaul that would have given immigrants in the U.S. illegally a way to become citizens; now says fixing border security comes first.

A quick sketch:

—His Cuban immigrant parents worked as a bartender and a maid

—Won a college football scholarship; University of Miami law degree

—Elected to Florida House in 2000, rose to speaker

—Beat a popular governor to win his U.S. Senate seat

—Speaks fluent Spanish, as does his Colombian-American wife

Also of note:

Rubio got famous on the Internet in 2013 when he paused several times in his televised response to the State of the Union address to make an awkward reach for bottled water while staring into the camera, like a Poland Spring-swilling deer in the headlights.

Might Rubio be for you?

Perhaps yes, if you think it's time for a younger generation (Generation X in this case) to lead.

Perhaps no, if you believe human actions cause global warming.

Some other distinguishing issues:

—Reverse President Barack Obama's diplomatic outreach to Cuba

—Stop taxing investment income, give parents a bigger tax break

—Freeze federal spending except on the military

In a nutshell:

Tea party roots. Hispanic. Youthful.



Key features: Son of a president, little brother of a president, and he's a former Florida governor.

A quick sketch:

—Born in Texas as John Ellis Bush, shortened to the nickname Jeb

—Met his future wife Columba, a native of Mexico, during a high school exchange program, and speaks Spanish comfortably

—Worked for father George H.W. Bush's 1980 and 1988 presidential campaigns.

—Was governor in 2000 when Florida recount gave his brother George W. Bush the presidency

—Made a name among religious conservatives by opposing removal of life support in the Terri Schiavo case

Also of note:

Bush would be the first brother of a president ever elected. If he wins, three of the five most recent White House residents would be named Bush. He says he's not his father or his brother, however: "I am my own man, and my views are shaped by my own thinking and experience."

Might Bush be for you?

Perhaps yes, if you want an immigration overhaul that gives people in the U.S. illegally a path to legal status

Perhaps no, if you think post-Sept. 11 surveillance programs violated civil liberties

Some other distinguishing issues:

—Wants states to adopt higher education standards; supports Common Core

—Assert U.S. military might more robustly in Iraq and to counter Russian moves in Eastern Europe

—Block tax increases, although he won't sign a no-tax-increase pledge

In a nutshell:

Bush dynasty. Speaks Spanish. Establishment favorite.



Key features: She's a businesswoman — a former CEO of Hewlett-Packard who's run for Senate but never held public office.

A quick sketch:

—Daughter of a law professor turned federal appeals judge and an abstract painter

—Trailblazing female executive at AT&T, Lucent and Hewlett-Packard

—In over five years of running HP: led major merger, laid off 30,000 workers, ousted by board

—Made a name in politics as high-profile adviser to John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign

—Ran for U.S. Senate seat from California, and lost, while being treated for breast cancer in 2010

Also of note:

She described secretly recorded footage in Planned Parenthood videos that does not exist and refused to acknowledge the mistake.

Might Fiorina be for you?

Perhaps yes, if you agree with her that a woman could best take on Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Perhaps no, if you want a president with experience serving in government.

Some other distinguishing issues:

—Impose "zero-based budgeting" that evaluates each federal program's spending annually

—Shrink the government work force and base federal workers' pay on performance, not seniority

—Use innovation, not regulation, to address global warming

In a nutshell:

Fiscal conservative. Political newcomer. GOP's only female contender.



Key features: He's a Republican senator who pushed a government shutdown to fight "Obamacare."

A quick sketch:

—Father is a Cuban immigrant who became a pastor

—Winning debater at Princeton and Harvard Law

—Argued nine cases before the Supreme Court

—Won Senate seat in 2012 upset, his first elected office

—A Texan partial to ostrich-leather boots

Also of note:

Cruz was born in Canada. His father was born in Cuba. But his mother was born in Nebraska, giving him U.S. citizenship. He's formally renounced his dual Canadian citizenship. Cruz is the first Hispanic senator from Texas, where many residents are native Spanish speakers. He's not fluent in the language, however, and nixed a proposal for a debate in Spanish in his 2012 Senate campaign.

Might Cruz be for you?

Perhaps yes, if you want to stop President Barack Obama's health care law at all costs.

Perhaps no, if you're looking for bipartisan compromise on immigration.

Some other distinguishing issues:

—Amend the Constitution so that voters could oust Supreme Court justices

—Amend the Constitution to allow states to ban gay marriage

—Abolish the IRS, switch to a flat tax

In a nutshell:

Tea party. Christian conservative. Hispanic.



Key features: Former Arkansas governor whose 2008 bid for the Republican presidential nomination focused on social issues.

A quick sketch:

—Son of a firefighter, he was born in President Bill Clinton's hometown of Hope, Arkansas

—Pastor of Baptist churches in Arkansas for 12 years; president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention

—Governor of Arkansas, 1996-2007

—Hosted his own political talk show on Fox News

—A bass guitarist who occasionally plays with his classic rock cover band Capitol Offense

Also of note:

Huckabee's numerous books include a diet guide called "Quit Digging Your Grave with a Knife and Fork," published in 2006 after he shed more than 100 pounds. He still struggles with his weight.

Might Huckabee be for you?

Perhaps yes, if you want a president to sign executive orders protecting the religious liberty of people and entities that oppose gay marriage.

Perhaps no, if you're a fan of Beyonce and Jay Z. Huckabee has criticized their sexualized lyrics and writes that Jay Z is arguably crossing the line from husband to pimp in exploiting his wife as a sex object.

Some other distinguishing issues:

—Replace income tax with a national sales tax

—Amend the Constitution to outlaw abortion

—Import lower-priced medicines from Canada

In a nutshell:

Christian conservative. Folksy appeal. Second time around.



Key features: The famously blunt governor of New Jersey saw his reputation badly damaged when several high-level aides were accused of purposely tying up traffic on a busy bridge for political payback.

A quick sketch:

—Newark-born, ancestors from Ireland and Sicily.

—Media-savvy U.S. attorney who won dozens of public corruption cases in New Jersey

—Defeated incumbent Democratic governor in a heavily Democratic state in 2009

—YouTube-famous for his readiness to call complaining citizens "idiots" or tell them to "shut up"

—Lost some presidential momentum when three former political allies were charged in "Bridgegate" case. One has pleaded guilty and two others are awaiting trial.

Also of note:

Christie isn't shy about sharing the personal stuff. Things he's talked about: his mother's last words to him ("there's nothing left unsaid between us"). The lap band surgery that helped him lose weight. His use of birth control, "and not just the rhythm method," even though he's Roman Catholic.

Might Christie be for you?

Perhaps yes, if you like letting students in struggling districts attend other public schools or charter schools.

Perhaps no, if you oppose raising the age when future retirees can qualify for Social Security and Medicare.

Some other distinguishing issues:

—Toughen anti-terrorism and surveillance laws to help intelligence services do their job

—Lower the corporate tax rate, reduce the top tax rate for individuals

—For each new federal regulation added, remove a regulation of equal cost

In a nutshell:

Centrist appeal. Combative. Sitting governor.



Key features: Former congressman now in his second term as Ohio governor.

A quick sketch:

—Son of a Pennsylvania mailman

—Graduated from Ohio State and became, at 26, the youngest person ever elected to Ohio's Senate

—Found his Anglican faith in his 30s after his parents were killed by a drunk driver

—Served 18 years in Congress, working with lawmakers of both parties to cut spending, balance budget

—Ran for president in 2000 but dropped out early; elected governor in 2010

Also of note:

Kasich opposes President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, yet he accepted federal money under the law to expand Ohio's Medicaid program. That angered many of his fellow Republicans. Kasich says "real flesh and blood, and real improvements in people's lives" are more important than ideology.

Might Kasich be for you?

—Perhaps yes, if you want to protect the social safety net for the poor.

—Perhaps no, if you don't want U.S. ground troops sent to battle Islamic State militants.

Some other distinguishing issues:

—Allow some immigrants in the U.S. illegally for years to stay if they pay a fine

—Address the climate change problem without doing economic damage

—Use the Common Core standards to raise the bar in education

In a nutshell:

Fiscal conservative. Sitting governor. Second time around.



Key features: He's NOT Ron Paul. That's his father, the former congressman who ran for president three times, once as a Libertarian.

A quick sketch:

—Helped in his father's campaigns from age 11

—Raised in Texas, settled in his wife's home state of Kentucky

—Ophthalmologist known for free eye clinics for the poor

—Won Senate seat in 2010 tea party wave, his first elected office

—Took over Senate floor for hours at a time to question U.S. drone policy and oppose collection of Americans' phone records

Also of note:

Rumors aside, he wasn't named for "Atlas Shrugged" author Ayn Rand. His given name is Randal, and his wife dubbed him 'Rand.' But he is a fan.

Might Paul be for you?

Perhaps yes, if you're upset about the National Security Agency snooping into citizens' private communications.

Perhaps no, if you want to see more aggressive use of U.S. military power in the world.

Some other distinguishing issues:

—Give Congress more power over the Federal Reserve

—End the right to abortion, protecting life from conception

—Reduce penalties for many drug crimes, let nonviolent felons vote

In a nutshell:

Libertarian-ish. Tea party. Young voter strategy.