Candidates on executive power
Clinton, unsurprisingly, takes the Bush Lite position:
she might attach a so-called signing statement to a bill reserving a right to bypass "provisions that contradict the Constitution."
Bill Richardson gets it right, making the point I have made at F&V in the past.
if a president thinks that parts of a bill are unconstitutional, then "he should veto it," not issue a signing statement.
McCain also is forthright (though I do not necessarily believe him, especially given that he would face divided government):
As President, I won’t have signing statements. I will either sign or veto any legislation that comes across my desk.
Obama's position is less than reassuring:
"No one doubts that it is appropriate to use signing statements to protect a president's constitutional prerogatives; unfortunately, the Bush administration has gone much further than that."
I don't see where in the Constitution the President is given the right to issue statements dissenting with provisions of bills he or she has signed into law. It is take it or leave it. All of it. In fact, off the top of my head, I am aware of two Constitutionally given rights--obligations, actually--to issue statements of any kind in an official constitutional capacity: (1) an annual message on the state of the union, and (2) an explanation for a veto. Richardson is right that if the President thinks a law infringes on his or her "constitutional prerogatives" that's precisely the occasion for a veto. In fact, the founders never appear to have countenanced a veto (let along a "I sign, but dissent") based on policy objections; protecting constitutional prerogatives was the basic intent of the veto.
Of course, I say this as someone who would abolish the veto altogether, other than to allow the president to delay implementation pending abstract review of constitutionality by a panel of independent judges. That is more or less what Madison originally proposed, and is the model found nowadays in several European constitutions.
By the way, Giuliani and Huckabee declined to answer the question on signing statements, and Romney thinks that the way Bush has used them is just dandy.