Robert Dole photo

Remarks in Denver, Colorado

May 28, 1996

CAMPBELL: ... that reaches out to those wounded in body and spirit by crime on the streets of America.

Americans feel threatened by random incidents of violent crime. Bob Dole recognizes that many schools that once were passports to opportunity have become demoralizing, fear-ridden places.

Bob Dole has fought for the toughest drug laws in our history: no parole for violent offenders, mandatory sentences for those convicted of crimes using a gun, and the appointment of conservative judges that will end liberal judicial policy. Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce to you a genuine American hero, Bob Dole of Kansas.


DOLE: Thank you very much.

I'm going to go fast. First, I want to thank you all for — I know you've been here awhile. We had a little headwind, I guess, coming out. We were told the weather was 75 and sunny. We were happy to get here.


I know why so many people are having so much fun indoors.


But I also want to introduce Linda Campbell, the senator's wife. Happy to have you here today.


And another special guest: Lynn Mosbrucker , whose husband was a deputy sheriff. You've read about him. Lynn, we're very happy to have you here today.


And to see Wayne here, Wayne Allard, and your outstanding attorney general, Gale Norton — very happy to have them here. I'm also honored to be joined today by so many fine men and women who have dedicated their careers to serving and defending the public.

Those of us in the political world talk a lot about fighting crime. But you're on the front lines every day, safeguarding our communities and protecting our streets. I salute each and every one of you, and I know everybody here salutes all these fine people all over America who lay their lives on the line every day.


I might just note I see a couple of tense mountain guys here, too. So, I know the country's safe.


Most Americans need little convincing that we have a crime problem of very serious dimensions in this country. When people say our country is headed in the wrong direction, one of the first things they cite is the explosion of crime. And I've seen America come through some tough challenges in my lifetime, and we have a few more challenges ahead. And I am hopeful because I know that whatever the problems we face, Americans will have what it takes to resolve them.

But I think there is a general feeling that in our criminal justice system, something has gone terribly wrong. We all know the problems. More than 43 million of our fellow citizens are victims of crime each year.

Eleven million of these are violent. But only one in 100 violent crimes ends up in a jail sentence. Yet, when criminals are caught by police and brought to trial, they may never do time.

Violent criminals are only one-fifth as likely to serve their full sentence as they were in the 1960s. Convicted rapists serve on average only five years, and drug traffickers less than two. And many Americans believe our criminal justice system is failing, and they are right.

Our two parties have embraced two different visions of crime and punishment. Until fairly recently, the debate in America was how to catch and punish wrongdoers, not whether to punish them, or whether they were even wrongdoers.

DOLE: The debate was not about root causes and theories about rehabilitation. It was about right and wrong, quilt and innocence. And we believe killing is caused by killers, robbing by robbers, and drug dealing by drug dealers.

The liberal view is that crime and violence are not so much punishable offenses as treatable disorders. But the liberal philosophy is not the solution to our crime problem. In fact, it's part of the problem.

And it's one of the reason Bill Clinton will be remembered as the president who just didn't get it. He understands what he needs to say, but he just doesn't grasp what he needs to do.

Now last month I caught some flak for questioning Bill Clinton's judicial appointments. Democrats complained that I was trying to politicize the courts, as if the judicial philosophy the president brings into office was not an important factor in the minds of American voters.

It seems to some, who believe our courts should be above public scrutiny or accountability. There are even those who said I should not make the importance of judicial appointments an issue in this campaign.

Well, I heard their objections, and I have one simple response. The motion is denied.


And I believe one of the most important legacies any president can leave is who he appoints to the judiciary. We have term limits for presidents but not for judges. They serve for life. They can touch American society for decades.

And Bill Clinton's legacy is already clear. It includes a startling number of appointees more faithful to the liberal orthodoxy than to the traditional notions of crime and punishment.

And take Harold Baer, the Clinton judge from New York who ruled that there was nothing suspicious about suspected drug dealers running away from the police because, in his opinion, residents of the area would be reasonable to regard law enforcement as corrupt.

Or Florida Supreme Court justice Rosemary Barkett, who joined a dissenting opinion in a case involving a brutal racially motivated killing. The opinion declared "this is not simply a homicide case, it is also a social awareness case."

It went on to state that "the murderer was motivated by the pervasive illness of racial discrimination. And the victim was, in the murder's eyes, only a symbolic representative of the class causing the perceived injustices."

Now Bill Clinton rewarded this judge with a seat on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, where she continues to press her liberal agenda. Now Bill Clinton hates to have the harsh light of public scrutiny shine on his judicial appointments. He can't defend them so he tries to change the subject.

Well, I can guarantee you this. There will be now Judge Baers or Judge Barkett in a Dole administration. Liberals intent ...


Liberals intent on imposing their agenda from the bench should run for office. When I'm president, only conservative judges need apply. And the president's record is no better when it comes to appointing federal prosecutors who are responsible for bringing criminals to justice.

When Bill Clinton took office, he fired every United States attorney in the country, an act of unprecedented partisanship in American politics. He replaced them with his own appointees. Some of whom, like his judges, refuse to take a hard line when it comes to putting criminals behind bars.

Look at the shocking examples in California. As reported in The Los Angeles Times, one drug runner was caught bringing 158 pounds of cocaine into our country. She was released. The charge against her dropped by a Clinton prosecutor.

Other drug smugglers were caught with 37,000 Qualude tablets and 32 pounds of hallucination-inducing drugs. The Clinton U.S. attorney apparently refused to prosecute them.

Since 1994, more than 1,000 suspects caught smuggling drugs in the United States and Mexico were simply sent home, free to make another attempt to bring their poison across the border.

DOLE: And the list goes on. There's a Clinton U.S. attorney in Phoenix who refused to authorize a search warrant in a major two-year investigation to break up a child pornography ring. And the president's prosecutor in Miami who got himself thrown out of a so-called adult entertainment club after allegedly biting one of the dancers.


He resigned in disgrace.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, last week we learned about another disgrace. We found out that one of the president's top political adviser also helped an accused rapist beat the rap. The same p.r. consultant who has been helping Bill Clinton pose as a crime fighter has been moonlighting for an accused rapist in Connecticut, advising the rapist's legal team on techniques for selecting an easy going jury.

Now the truth is, if Bill Clinton had done more to fight crime, if he had appointed people serious about fighting crime, he wouldn't need a high-priced p.r. man to help him with the issue.

Oh, it stopped raining. Yeah.


The single most important thing a president can do to fight crime is to put crime fighters in our courtrooms, both on the bench and at the prosecutor's table. And when I am the president that is exactly what I will do.


And I'm going to skip over some of this because I know you're dying to hear it, but maybe I'll just mail it to you. Or I'll send you a recording. You know, the president promised to put 100,000 police on the streets. He's talked about it and talked about it and talked about it.

Well, I caught him. In fact, I questioned them about this. They said, Oh, we're going to have 43,000 on the streets.

Well, it's a noble idea. The fact of the matter they have 17,000 on the streets — 17 percent. Not 100 percent, not 100,000. And this is the way it goes with this administration.

And now the attorney general has backtracked and said, well, Bob — didn't say Bob Dole — but basically says I'm right.

And this is another reason I'm running for president. Every country ought to have one. And I'm going to be your president. We're going to be elected on November 5, 1996.


Now last year, the president proudly announced a slight one-year drop in the violent crime rate. In 1994, more than 23,000 people were murdered, a decline of five percent. And this was proof, he said, that America was moving in the right direction.

Well, of course, any reduction in the number of murders is good news. But frankly, when 23,000 or so killings a year seems like good news, I think we're losing perspective. 23,000 Americans, that's the population of a lot of small towns in Colorado and my state. In fact, some of the big towns aren't that big in my state.

And there's something even a grim statistic doesn't tell us. And I talked to the sheriff about this before I came out. The killings are getting more brutal, more ruthless, and more random. Things are moving in the wrong direction. And today, for the first time ever, most murders are committed by strangers to their victims.

And ours is the age of violence without feeling, feeling guilt, and without remorse — the paroled child molester, the drive-by shooting, the thrill shooting, wilding, the serial killer, the mail bomber. And women in America know better than anyone about the randomness and ruthlessness of crime.

It is a shameful national disgrace that nightfall has become synonymous with fear for so many of America's women. Why should our wives feel unsafe when they leave work in the evening?

DOLE: Why should our daughters be gripped with fear when they enter a shopping mall parking lot? And it seems to me that we've got our work cut out for us.

We have a mounting drug crisis as well. Though the current administration just recently noticed it, and they've been talking a lot about fighting drugs.

Well, Ronald Reagan and George Bush were serious about solving the drug problem. And a lot of people thought it couldn't be done. But it was. Marijuana use declined. Cocaine-related deaths down, use of heroin and LSD down. But here, as well, things are moving in the wrong direction. The numbers are going back up.

Teen drug use has nearly doubled since President Clinton took office. And about the most memorable thing you can remember about this administration came from the former surgeon general, Jocelyn Elders. What was her drug policy? She said that drugs ought to be legalized, that was the drug policy of Jocelyn Elders, who's no longer with us, fortunately, in that capacity.

So it seems to me that we, in addition to raising some of the questions, we ought to be talking about some of the problems. And let me just do that very quickly.

The sheriff just told me about the rising rate of juvenile crime. The murder rate among 14-to 17-year-olds more than doubled, rising 172 percent between 1985 and 1994.

Thirty-five percent of all violent crime is now committed by offenders less than 20 years of age. And I think you told me that 18.

(UNKNOWN): 18, under the age of 18.

DOLE: Eighteen and under the age of 18 in there for violent crimes, murder, first degree murder. We worried once about children having children, now we're worrying about children killing children. And juvenile arrests may double by the year 2010, and some of today's newborns will become tomorrow's 14-year-old killers, super predators, as the experts predict.

And I won't pretend that this is a simple issue. Too many children are born to circumstances few of us can imagine, mean streets, and loveless homes. And these children are American citizens like the rest of us, and our leaders should never rest until we have found ways to reach out and offer hope to everyone. And at the heart of juvenile violence is the breakdown of the family.

It seems to me that we need to change things. Thirty percent of our children are born into homes without fathers. In 15 years, under the current rate, the number will exceed 50 percent. And no society that calls itself civilized can sustain this frightening trend.

And at its best, government can help families, and its worst it can hurt families — whether by taxing them too much or failing to deliver a quality education.

But of all the wrong turns taken by big government, none has been a great disaster than welfare. The system treats marriage, work, and personal responsibility as irrelevant. It has produced a culture of illegitimacy, depency, and self-destruction.

Rebuilding the family is the best juvenile crime prevention program we could hope for, and we can start by reforming welfare. And last week I announced...


I announced a program to end welfare. Remember presidential candidate Clinton said we're going to end as we know it. Well, he's already vetoed it twice. So just wait about seven more months, and I'll end it as we know it. And we'll keep our word, and we'll sign the bill. And we'll put people back to work.


Robert Dole, Remarks in Denver, Colorado Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under





Simple Search of Our Archives