Get to know the 2020 presidential candidates

Graphic by Juhi Karnalkar | Mercury Staff

Who are the candidates and what are they known for?

(Democrat) Joe Biden:

  • Former VP under the Obama administration
  • Served as the Senate representative of Delaware from 1973 to 2009

(Green Party) Howie Hawkins:

  • Former truck driver for UPS in New York until 2018 retirement, involved in trade unions and workers’ rights initiatives
  • Previously ran for office 24 times, ranging from local to statewide positions

(Libertarian) Jo Jorgensen

(Republican) Donald Trump

  • Current incumbent candidate and 45th President of the United States
  • Former businessman and television personality

Where do they stand on the top issues voters care about this year?


Biden: Decade-long $1.3 trillion infrastructure plan, expand middle class and cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero (through a $2 trillion plan during his first term), raise income tax rate (progressive) to 37%, raise minimum wage to $15

Hawkins: Economic Bill of Rights that includes a $20 minimum wage, affordable housing, Medicare For All, supports progressive wealth tax and public monetary authority

Jorgensen: Lower taxes and government spending overall, end government zoning and eliminate all government job licensing requirements, emphasize natural market regulation

Trump: $2 trillion infrastructure plan, extend Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to continue cutting individual taxes (costing $1.5 trillion between now and 2025), eliminate outsourcing jobs to foreign countries

Coronavirus outbreak/health care

Biden: Expand access to PPE and testing capabilities, create COVID-19 Racial and Ethnic Disparities Task Force for communities affected by COVID-19, allocate $25 billion towards vaccine manufacturing/production, supports protecting and continuing to build Affordable Care Act

Hawkins: Grant $2000 a month per adult above age 16 and $500 per child, provide loans to businesses and hospitals for payroll, cancel rent, utility payments and mortgage, use Medicare to pay for COVID-19 testing, “community controlled national health service,” public hospitals and clinics

Jorgensen: “Reduce red tape and regulation” to get COVID-19 treatments and testing to patients as fast as possible, get rid of FDA efficacy requirements, promote real price competition within healthcare industry

Trump: Promises to have a vaccine widely available by the end of the year (300 million doses by January 2021), reopen the economy, dismantle Affordable Care Act, extend CHIP through six-year extension, reduce drug costs by importing prescription drugs from foreign countries

Supreme Court appointment

Biden: Argues that Supreme Court justices should be left to winner of 2020 election, has not yet made public a list of nominees

Hawkins: Supports Supreme Court nomination to be postponed until after election, open to increasing size of Court and reevaluating its powers  

Jorgensen: Supports justices who “strictly uphold our Constitution” and named several potential candidates for the next justice, such as law professors Richard Epstein, Eugene Volokh, and Jonathan Turley and current judges Janice Rogers Brown and Don Willett

Trump: Nominated justice Amy Coney Barrett to succeed former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Violent crime/criminal justice

Biden: $20 billion competitive grant program designed towards prevention rather than incarceration, expand federal funding for mental health research, direct and expand U.S. Justice Department power towards investigating systemic police and prosecutor misconduct

Hawkins: Legalize marijuana, decriminalize sex work, eliminate mass incarceration, promote “community control of the police” and have federal investigations of local police misconduct

Jorgensen: Decriminalize drug possession, end no-knock raids, end qualified immunity, end civil asset forfeiture and defund federal involvement with policing and DEA, supports prisoner voting rights

Trump: Expand Project Safe Neighborhoods to create “customized crime reduction strategies,” work with Department of Justice which recently announced $98 million in grant funding towards hiring 802 additional law-enforcement officials

Foreign Policy:

Biden: End Forever Wars, defend America and use force when necessary, ensure a strong military, rebuild the U.S. Department of State and emphasize diplomacy

Hawkins: Bring troops home, invest in Global Green New Deal, cut military spending by 75%, “unilaterally disarm to a minimum credible deterrent”

Jorgensen: “Turn America into one giant Switzerland, armed and neutral,” eliminate American military personnel stationed in foreign countries, eliminate foreign aid, American sanctions and government loans to other countries

Trump: “America First” and “restore America’s prominence in global diplomacy,” withdraw from international organizations such as the World Health Organization and Trans-Pacific Partnership, combat terrorism


Biden: Reverse previous administration’s immigration policies, provide humanitarian resources to the border, end asylum system mismanagement

Hawkins: Supports open borders like that of the European Union, promote timely path to citizenship, only detain those with criminal charges or affiliation with terrorist organizations, abolish and replace Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

Jorgensen: Supports deportation of illegal immigrants involved in serious crimes, does not support building a wall across southern border of U.S. or separating children from parents

Trump: Emphasize a merit-based immigration plan, fund a wall across the southern border of the U.S, diminish the visa lottery program and diminish Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, created “Remain in Mexico” policy

Climate Change:

Biden: Rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, “achieve a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035,” invest in energy efficiency in buildings and build affordable homes, pursue clean energy innovation

Hawkins: Public ownership of energy and transportation, 100% clean energy plan by 2020, ban fracking and building new fossil fuel infrastructures, no-waste recycling and manufacturing

Jorgensen: Eliminate energy subsidies, promote the use of nuclear energy, reduce barriers that prevent innovation in clean energy research

Trump: Promote oil and gas production, Affordable Clean Energy Rule (establishes CO2 emission guidelines for states), unwound Obama-era plans and regulations because of high costs, is skeptical of man-made causes behind climate change