National | Politics

GOP presidential field keeps growing with more announcements

Ben Carson shakes hands with Al Sharpton. Photo from Facebook

A lot of Republicans are running for president but nearly every one lacks significant experience in Indian issues.

This week, neurosurgeon Ben Carson, tech executive Carly Fiorina and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee are joining the list of declared candidates. Three Senators -- Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul are already in the race.

Of the declared candidates, only Rand Paul has exposed himself to Indian issues. But his proposal to eliminate the Bureau of Indian Affairs and downsize the Indian Health Service demonstrated a shaky understanding of the difference between tribal trust funds and federal funds.

Scott Walker. Photo from Facebook

Two more Republicans have yet to declare their candidacies but are raising funds and meeting with party leaders and members. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker are considered top contenders if they throw their hats into the ring.

During his two terms in Florida, though, Bush did not establish any solid Indian polices. Like every one of his predecessors he refused to negotiate a gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe -- it was his successor, Charlie Crist, who finally signed a historic deal in 2010.

In Wisconsin, Walker hasn't fared much better. He supported a controversial mine in the northern part of the state that has effectively been killed by tribal and environmental opposition.

He rejected a controversial off-reservation casino for the Menominee Nation despite strong local support. He could do the same for the Ho-Chunk Nation if the tribe's proposal clears the BIA before he leaves office.

Hilary Clinton. Photo from Facebook

On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State and former Senator Hilary Clinton has announced her bid. During her tenure at the Department of State, the U.S. announced its support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Clinton left the Obama administration in February 2013 without finalizing work on the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline that tribes nationwide oppose. The State Department's stance about the route in Nebraska has effectively kept the project in limbo.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, also announced his campaign for the Democratic nomination. He doesn't have much experience with Indian issues.

Get the Story:
For Carson and Fiorina, the trick will be going from spoiler to contender (The Washington Post 5/4)
Can Hillary Clinton win over Latino voters? (The Washington Post 5/4)
Carly Fiorina and Mike Huckabee Joining G.O.P. Race on Heels of Ben Carson (The New York Times 5/5)

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Presidential hopeful Rand Paul draws 'NDN' supporter on Twitter (04/13)
Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul targeted BIA & IHS (4/8)
Indian school construction put back on track with latest budget (02/03)
Obama requests big increase in Bureau of Indian Affairs budget (2/2)
Indian Health Service tops $5B mark with new budget proposal (02/02)
Budget seeks small boost in funding for Office of Special Trustee (02/02)
Sen. Paul proposes to eliminate all funding for BIA, cut IHS in half (02/09)

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