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BACKGROUND: Born June 17, 1943, in Harrisburg, Pa. A professor of education, he received a bachelor of arts from Emory University in 1965 and a doctorate in European history from Tulane University in 1971. He was U.S. representative from Georgia (1979-99) and was House speaker (1995-99). Married, with two children.

ISSUES: As House speaker in mid-1990s, he engineered passage of a seven-year balanced-budget plan. It was vetoed by President Bill Clinton but helped form a bipartisan balanced budget two years later. He supports constitutional balanced-budget amendment. He would repeal the 2010 financial industry and consumer protection regulations that followed the Wall Street meltdown and repeal the 2002 regulations enacted in response to the Enron and other corporate and accounting scandals. If the Defense of Marriage Act fails, he says, "you have no choice except a constitutional amendment" to ban gay marriage. He would repeal President Barack Obama's health care law if Republicans win congressional majorities. On Social Security, he would give younger workers the option of diverting Social Security taxes to private retirement accounts. He would cut the corporate tax to 12.5 percent from maximum 35 percent, eliminate capital gains and estate taxes. For personal taxes, he would let people choose whether to file under the current system or pay a 15 percent tax. He initially criticized Obama for not intervening in Libya, then did an about-face after the president had sent in U.S. war planes to support the rebels fighting the government. He supported the Iraq War and opposed early timetables for withdrawal.(Credit: Getty Images, 2011)

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Meet the GOP's 2012 presidential hopefuls

Meet the GOP's 2012 presidential hopefuls.


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