(AP) - Rarely have the differences between presidential candidates been so stark.
President Barack Obama's announcement in support of same-sex marriage is the latest example. Republican challenger Mitt Romney quickly reaffirmed his view that marriage should be between one man and one woman.
There's a lot of clarity in this race on a range of issues. It's providing both parties with plenty of material for talking points, since to a large extent the candidates' views reflect respective current Democratic and Republican orthodoxy.
For instance, Obama wants to end the Bush-era tax cuts on households earning over $250,000 a year, impose a minimum tax of 30 percent on those earning over $1 million a year and raise taxes on companies that outsource jobs. Romney wants lower rates for all incomes with no special tax penalties on corporate behavior.
Romney vows to try to roll back Obama's health care law if the Supreme Court doesn't do it, and to let states decide health care policy. Obama wants to forge ahead and contends any Supreme Court ruling striking his overhaul would amount to "judicial activism."
Obama supports abortion rights and the requirement that contraceptives to be available for free for women enrolled in workplace health plans. Romney opposes abortion rights and would end federal aid to Planned Parenthood.
Romney advocates a tougher U.S. stance on Iran and China. Obama has stiffened sanctions on Iran but wants diplomacy to run its course over Tehran's nuclear ambitions. He has criticized China's human-rights record while his administration has negotiated with China on a range of topics.
There are plenty more stark contrasts, and the rivals no doubt will be hammering them in the days ahead.
Obama flew to the West Coast for a campaign swing Thursday, including a fundraiser at movie star George Clooney's house. Romney campaigned in Nebraska.
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