GOP Presidential Hopefuls Have Supported High-Speed Rail

Gingrich, Perry and Paul have backed passenger rail but financing offers them an out

Candidates vying for the Republican nomination have a history of supporting high-speed rail.

Newt Gingrich, a former speaker of the House, has written books and given speeches about the importance of high-speed rail in the United States, and he supported a study for a high-speed line from Atlanta to Chattanooga, Tenn., sought by local boosters when he was in Congress. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas saw a role for high-speed rail in his failed $175 billion transportation plan to build what would have been called the Trans-Texas Corridor.

Even Representative 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.”

Gingrich may be the most outspoken Republican presidential candidate supporting high-speed rail, but he hinted at a governors’ forum in 2009 that the central issue behind its success is the need to change the federal financing process. 

“You can’t talk about American national security in the long run without a fundamental redevelopment of this country economically. It is not possible," Gingrich said. "And you can’t talk about a competitive American economy without a dramatically more robust and more modern infrastructure.”

(More on Republicans supporting high-speed rail . . . )