Dole Seeks To Make Points in Proposing Anti-Drug and -Crime Plan
Bob Dole spent last week talking up his proposed crime- and drug-control strategy, including a plan he says will reduce teenage drug use by 50 percent.
Mr. Dole unveiled the strategy in a speech at Villanova University outside Philadelphia. He followed that with an address in California challenging the fashion, music, and film industries to "stop the commercialization of drug abuse."
For weeks, the GOP presidential nominee and fellow Republicans have criticized President Clinton over the rise in teenage drug use in recent years. The series of speeches and events last week was designed to capitalize on the president's perceived vulnerability on the issue.
"Teenagers, many struggling with the lure of drugs, have seen a United States president make light of his own experimentation with drugs," Mr. Dole said at Chaminade College Preparatory High School in West Hills, Calif. "A president is supposed to show the way. This president has shown moral confusion."
Mr. Dole was apparently referring to Mr. Clinton's affirmative response when asked if he would inhale while smoking a marijuana cigarette if he had another chance. Mr. Clinton famously replied during the 1992 campaign that he smoked marijuana, but that he didn't inhale.
According to campaign materials, Mr. Dole's strategy involves using the presidential bully pulpit more forcefully than Mr. Clinton has to urge young people not to use drugs; spearheading "the creation of 1,000 new community-based anti-drug coalitions, using federal seed money where necessary"; convening a White House conference of parents, civic leaders, educators, and entertainment-industry officials to "establish a voluntary strategy for ending the glamorization of drugs in American film, television, and music"; and making sure that money under the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Program is used for drug prevention rather than "unproven social programs." The program now allows funds to be used for prevention efforts like conflict-resolution training.
Mr. Dole also pledges to revamp the juvenile-justice system so that more teenage violent-crime offenders are prosecuted as adults.
President Clinton last week sought to blunt Mr. Dole's announcement by accepting the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police--the organization's first endorsement of a Democrat for president. Clinton campaign officials have also noted that Mr. Dole was one of a number of GOP lawmakers who voted to reduce funding for the drug-free-schools program.
Seeking to capitalize on voter concern about the nation's schools, the controversial anti-Republican advertising campaign backed by the AFL-cio turned toward education earlier this month.
In a series of television and radio ads that ran through last week, the giant labor organization targeted 32 Republican members of Congress in 26 states who voted to trim education spending in 1995.
"Working families are struggling, but Congressman Frank Riggs voted with Newt Gingrich to cut education funding for our children," says one of the California ads.
The television ads include footage of a classroom and of children on a playground. The education campaign is part of a series of ads from the labor group on Medicare, the economy, and other issues. The education ads cost about $1 million.
The AFL-CIO, which counts the American Federation of Teachers as a prominent member, has been paying for its own ad campaign against Mr. Dole and GOP members of Congress.
Republicans have complained that the campaign should be considered a donation to the Democrats for election-law purposes. But union officials say the ads do not fall under such reporting requirements because they highlight issues rather than advocate a candidate.
Meanwhile, the New York City affiliate of the AFT began a $200,000, three-week radio ad campaign last week responding to Mr. Dole's criticisms of the nation's teachers' unions. The campaign also attacks his "opportunity scholarship" proposal, a voucher demonstration plan.
The newly crowned Miss America, 23-year-old Tara Dawn Holland, is a Republican who supports Mr. Dole, her fellow Kansan, for president. But when it comes to education, she sounds more like a backer of President Clinton.
Ms. Holland touched on politics at a news conference on the day after she won the title in the annual beauty pageant.
"I agree with his stand on family values and welfare reform," newspapers quoted Ms. Holland as saying of Mr. Dole, "but I disagree with his stand on education. I don't think vouchers are a good idea. We should concentrate more effort on public schools."
Ms. Holland received a bachelor's degree in music education from Florida State University in Tallahassee. She is pursuing a graduate degree in the same subject at the University of Missouri in Kansas City.
She's the second Miss America in a row to part company with Republicans on education issues.
Oklahoma's Shawntel Smith, who was crowned in 1995, adopted as her "platform" the support of school-to-work programs, which drew criticism from some Republicans. ("Miss America Reiterates Support for Federal Program," Oct. 18, 1995.)
Ms. Holland's platform is to combat illiteracy--a position that has yet to draw fire from Capitol Hill.
The outgoing president of the National Education Association is going out to Ohio.
Keith B. Geiger, who recently completed a seven-year stint as the head of the nation's largest teachers' union, will become a top election-year activist on behalf of the union.
He will criss-cross Ohio, a major electoral battleground, to help in setting up phone banks, devising literature for union members, and organizing other get-out-the-vote methods in support of President Clinton and other candidates the NEA has endorsed.
"It's a targeted state for us, and we wanted to put one of our best people there," Kathleen Lyons, a union spokeswoman, said.
Ms. Lyons said Mr. Geiger may show up in other states as well.
--MARK PITSCH [email protected]
Vol. 16, Issue 04