NPR logo Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA)

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA)

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At a Glance: Duncan Hunter

First Campaign

Read about Duncan Hunter's first campaign.

Although Duncan Hunter has served in Congress for more than a quarter-century, few people outside his home base in San Diego could pick the lawmaker out of a lineup. Hunter is hoping to raise his profile with a strong showing in the South Carolina primary.

Hunter is a decorated Vietnam veteran, and his son — a Marine reservist — was recently reactivated for a third tour of duty in Iraq. Hunter's vigorous support for the military and for pro-life causes could play well in the Bible Belt. In other quarters, his unwavering backing of the president's policies in Iraq puts Hunter in the same category as most Republican candidates; the position could help with GOP audiences but is likely to be difficult to sell to a general-election audience in November.

When it comes to illegal immigration, Hunter feels President Bush has not been tough enough. It's one of the few true breaks he makes with the Bush administration. Hunter is more in line with some of the stronger anti-illegal immigration leaders of the party — such as Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, a fellow presidential candidate — who focus on securing the border rather than on a guest-worker program that could eventually lead to citizenship.

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Hunter upset a long-serving Democrat to win his House seat in the Reagan Revolution of 1980. Thanks to redistricting, though, he hasn't faced a competitive election in years. He has recently announced that he will not seek another term in 2008; his son is already a candidate to succeed him. Hunter ranks near the bottom of the Republican pack in fundraising. Retirees make up his biggest single category of contributors.