Later on this evening, Iowa republicans will start to caucus for their nomination for president on the republican ticket. An issue that has been avoided among the candidates thus far has been transportation, so being able to gauge their feelings on the subject has been less then meets the eye. We have seen only the same “lower taxes, lower spending” rhetoric that we see typical of Republican primary contests.
However, the New York Times did some research, and they found that the candidates who are most likely to show support for high speed rail as a president would be former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Texas Congressman Ron Paul.
They declared Gingrich the most vocal supporter of high speed rail, claiming that
He has spoken and written admiringly of China and France, and how far ahead of the United States they were when it comes to high-speed rail. He has opined that high-speed train lines would make sense in Florida and California — places the Obama administration sought to build them — and in the Northeast, among other places. And he has spoken of a role for government to help build a national rail network.
The Times also says that Gingrich has “spoken of how far ahead France, with its TGV train, and China are when it comes to high-speed rail.”
Considering his past positions such as climate change which push Newt’s overall platform further to the left than many of his GOP rivals, Ron Paul is a name that many will be shocked to see as a supporter. Dubbed by many as the “Godfather of the Tea Party”, the multi-term congressman and former physician is a libertarian, and an advocate of smaller government and less spending across the board.
Ron Paul of Texas, a small-government libertarian, signed a letter that several members of Texas’ Congressional delegation sent to federal officials in 2009 urging them to give the state money for rail studies to help it build “a truly ambitious and world-class high-speed rail network.”
Paul campaign spokesman Jesse Benton claimed that Ron Paul “thinks high-speed rail is a very exciting idea and could be a very worthwhile project in many cases” and says that he would support private financing with government cash and tax breaks to incentivize the private sector to do so.
In 2009, the entire Texas congressional delegation signed a letter to Obama’s transportation secretary Ray LaHood, asking for support for a 200mph passenger rail line in Texas. You can read that letter blow, or click here to download the entire letter contents, map of the Texas T-Bone corridor, and correspondance from Secretary LaHood’s office in PDF format.
In the meantime, check out the article by Michael Cooper at the New York Times.