Robert Dole photo

Remarks at Villanova University in Philadelphia

September 16, 1996

I appreciate that very much, and I am very honored to be here. I'm not certain there have ever been 13 Republican governors on this campus at one time before. And I'm very proud of each one of them.

We have the president of the Republican — chairman of the Republican governors, John Engler, from Michigan. John, thank you.


And the immediate past president of the national governors, Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin.


And probably up here you're looking at a future president.


Future cabinet officer. Whatever.

So I'm really proud that — I know many of them had to change their schedules to be here. And I am certainly honored to be in their presence.

And I want to thank Governor Ridge, as the host governor. We've had an opportunity to have a discussion. And we think we're on the right track today.

I also want to thank Father Dovan and all the people of Villanova for hosting us today. We're very proud of that.


It is an honor to be at this great university. I also bring greetings from my wife Elizabeth.


Who still recalls her visit to Villanova three years ago as a commencement speaker as one of the highlights in her life. And I am sorry she cannot be here. She is very talented. In fact, she is so talented Eleanor Roosevelt's trying to reach her. She's great.


I am here to talk about the stakes of this election. And as you probably know, there is a tendency every time it rolls around to say, well this election — this is the watershed. This is the big one.

And whether or not that's always true, I believe that the last election of the 20th century clearly belongs in that category. That's because it gives the people of our country a choice between two different visions — very different visions — of America's future.

And let me make it clear at the outset. This is a contest. They're our opponents. They're not our enemies.

We have a vision and they have a vision. They have a vision that places government at the center of your lives. If you just send more money, of your money to Washington and give up more freedom, then the government will take care of us.

Now, Jack Kemp and I have a different vision. We say the government's already taken too much of your money and too much of your authority and too much freedom from the American people. And it's time ti give it back. That's our vision of America.


And sometimes it seems that President Clinton has a million little plans for how government can tell you how to run your life.

DOLE: Well, Jack and I have one big plan — to give you back more of your hard earned money and more of your freedom because you can run your own life better than any government bureaucracy ever can or ever will. You have the American spirit, and that's what it's about.


That's why we're going to do what the naysayers say can't be done. But these Republican governors up here have been doing it for a long time and all across America. We're going to balance the budget and cut taxes at the same time, and it will be done. It will be done.


And it ties in to what I'll talk to in a couple of minutes about crime and drugs.

If you stop and think about it, today the typical American family pays more in taxes than for food, clothing and shelter combined. Think about it.

About 40 percent — 38.2 to be exact — goes in taxes. In a lot of American households, one parent works full time for the family, while the other parent works full time for the government just to pay the taxes. And I don't believe it should be that way in America.

If both parents want to work, that's fine. But they should be working because they want to work, not because they were forced to work just to pay high taxes. And I think that's the difference in our...


And today I'm looking at the future as I look around this room.

College graduates who will be in the workplace. And those who graduated beginning their careers during the slowest expansion, the slowest economic expansion the last century. Yet President Clinton says we have the strongest economy in decades.

Now, we're told that last year the economies of 66 other countries grew at a faster rate than ours did. Now, some may think when it comes to growth that 67th place is good enough, but I do not. We can do better. We must raise our expectations. We must do better. And when the Dole-Kemp administration takes office next January, that's exactly what we're going to do.

DOLE: We're going to do better.


We're going to get this economy moving again with a pro-growth plan that starts with a tax cut of 15 percent across the board — 15 percent across the board. We're also going to help...


... low and middle income families with a $500 tax credit for every child they're raising — $500. It's not hard to figure.


And in a move that will create more jobs and more opportunities, we're giving relief to the homeowner, the family farmer, the entrepreneur and the small business person. We're going to cut the capital gains rate in half, cut it right down the middle. Cut it in half.


And let me make it clear. In this package is also a constitutional amendment for a balanced budget that President Clinton helped defeat. We lost by one vote in the Senate because six Democratic senators had their arms twisted.

When I'm in the White House I'll be supporting a balanced budget amendment to the constitution, we'll have a balanced budget by the year 2002, and we will have these tax cuts. This is a Main Street, not a Wall Street tax cut. Make that very, very clear. This is for working people in Pennsylvania and all across America.


And that's just phase one. Our goal in phase two is to make the tax system flatter, fairer and simpler, and to end the IRS as we know it. To end the IRS as we know it.


We want to return some of the money you send to Washington so that families across America have more of what it takes to make the decisions that will shape their lives — decisions like where to send your child to school, how best to raise them, whether to leave a job and maybe start a business.

Our economic plan will lower federal income tax bill of a family of four making about $35,000 a year about $1,300 a year. That would cover a few months day care, a personal computer for a child, or several payments on the mortgage or on a car.

If you're self-employed you can keep up your $1,300 and take some days off and spend some time with your family, maybe go on a vacation — maybe come to Kansas for a vacation, I can't think of a better place.


But the point is here is that our opponents keep forgetting that it is your money.

DOLE: It's you money. It's not our money. The money belongs to you.


And you should not have to apologize for wanting to keep more of what you earn. The government should apologize for taking too much of it. And we're going to change this, I would say to the working families in this audience and the students in this office.


But lower taxes and a balanced budget are not the only key to a better America. We also need to restore the sense of security and personal safety that once allowed communities in all parts of our nation to thrive.

And Jack Kemp is an optimist, as you can tell. And as I said in my acceptance speech, I'm the most optimistic man in America.

We want this country moving. We want to create jobs and opportunities for people everywhere. We're going to go out and fight for every vote in America. We're not going to concede one vote because we believe we have the ideas and we have the agenda for America as we go into the next century.

That is the Dole-Kemp message.


And that is why today here in Philadelphia, historic Philadelphia, I want to focus on a subject that justifiably is on the minds of every parent, every school teacher, every woman who has to walk home alone at night, and every student — violent crime and drugs.

And before I say one word, let me introduce a family who understands this — the Del'Assandro family from New Jersey. They're down here somewhere.

Let me tell you about them. I know Frank and Rosemary and their sons John and Mike are out here somewhere. Where are they? Right over — right up here.


Twenty-three years ago, their 12-year-old daughter went around the streets selling cookies, Girl Scout cookies. Tragically, a 23-year-old male neighbor two doors down invited the daughter in and proceeded to rape, kill and dump her into the garbage. That was happening then. It's happening more now, more rapidity, over and over and over again.

So this is a real discussion. This is about America.

DOLE: This is about you. It's about your children. It's about your neighbors. It's not about Democrats or Republicans or Independents.

This is serious business. And no one has all the answers, but I'm going to try to lay out at least my approach. I want you to understand where I'm coming from.

This could be the most important issue not just in this election, but in the next 10 to 20 to 30 years. And more than 200 years ago when our nation's founders drafted our Constitution here in Philadelphia, they included among the prime objects of the new government — and I quote — "to ensure domestic tranquility."

To ensure domestic tranquility.

Today, sadly, tragically for too many American families, our government is not fulfilling that role. And I am here to talk to you about what has gone wrong and how we can fix it.

What works in combatting crime is no mystery. It begins with the understanding that the cause of crime can be explained with one simple word — criminals. Criminals. Criminals.


But I'm also saying that too often the current administration in Washington because of their ideology and their fixation on liberal responses to crime, has emphasized what doesn't over what does work. And I am saying that as president of the United States, I will have a simple straightforward plan to make America safer again — safer for the mothers who now keep their families behind locked doors.

Safer for the children walking to school. Safer for the grandmothers carting their groceries home from the supermarket.

And many of these governors could tell you how senior citizens are actually jailed by themselves. They're locked up because they're afraid to go on the streets. Their groceries go up on a rope. They're scared to death in America. They're scared to death in America.

Now we shouldn't be a nation that fears the streets of our own neighborhoods. And many of us can think back at a time when we were growing up; we didn't lock our house. We didn't take the keys out of the car. Those days are obviously gone forever.

We shouldn't be a nation that lives behind locked doors. We shouldn't be a nation that trembles for the safety of our children. And I don't believe we have to be. That's the good news.

And I believe that America can once again have safe streets and quiet neighborhoods and schools where students study in fear of nothing more threatening than a pop quiz.

DOLE: And we've heard all the triumphant boasting from the current administration about crime. And yes, some statistics are down, and that of course is the good news. But the truth is that a half million — a half million more Americans were victims of violent crime — violent crime in 1994 than in 1992.

Four out of five Americans — four out of five — can expect to be a violent crime victim at least once in their lives. More Americans die at the hands of murderers every three years as died in combat during the Vietnam War. And one of the biggest causes of economic poverty today is the moral poverty that breeds crimes. The moral poverty that breeds crimes.


And maybe everybody knows it in this audience, but every time I read the number it surprises me. Particular alarming — 35 percent of all violent crime is now committed by teenagers — 35 percent. The number of murders by juveniles has more than doubled over the last decade. And all experts point to evermore random violence among young people.

The program I'm announcing today is to combat drugs and combat violent crime. Now, some may think they're two separate issues. They're not. They're not separate.

The simple fact is that drug abuse, particularly among young people, leads to more criminal activity, and that criminal activity leads to violent crime. This is the crime pipeline.

Today, Monday, September 16, just as happens every other day, thousands, thousands of teenagers will try drugs for the first time. And for many of them, that terrible test will lead over the years — next few years — committing serious offenses, usually some kind of theft, followed by more theft, ending in a turn of violence, a holdup, a mugging, a rape and a murder.

And for most of these young criminals, it will be far more than just one act of violent crime. Crime and violence will become a lifestyle choice, believe it or not.

I go back to the Reagan and Bush years, and we went a long way to closing off this crime pipeline at the source, in teenage drug use.

From 1979 to 1992, overall drug use in America dropped 50 percent — 50 percent. But President Clinton has opened the crime pipeline up again. And thanks to the liberal "wink-and-nod" policies of this administration, drug use among teenagers has not just started up again, it's skyrocketing upward — as former Drug Czar Bill Bennett can confirm.

DOLE: From 1992 to last year general drug use among young people — we're talking about young people 12 to 17 years old — soared 105 percent. That is, it more than doubled. And the story of the really hard stuff is even worse.

From 1994 to 1995 — that's just one year — monthly cocaine use with young people went up 165 percent. Now, how could this be? Why, after so many years of progress have we seen such backsliding?

The fact is that the country is reaping the bitter harvest of what this administration's liberal policies have sowed.

And while the administration's looked the other way on drugs, a tragic number of America's youth have gone the wrong way on crime. It began almost the day this administration was sworn in when they cut the drug czar's office, or drug policy office, control office by 83 percent — 83 percent.

Then they cut by more than half the Defense Department's budget for planes and troops to help keep drugs from ever crossing our border. Then they proposed cutting the number of drug enforcement agents by more than 600 in the United States. They all but stopped searches for drugs at major ports of entry and have returned hundreds of drug smuggler's to Mexico without charges being filed.

In fact, they even had a quota out there — only bring in so much, you go back home. If you bring in more — if you brought that much into Kansas I know where you'd go. But they ship them back. They appointed a surgeon general who openly suggested that drugs should be legalized.

Now I want to make it clear. None of these actions of course were taken out of bad motives. But they do all reflect the administration's old liberal view that law enforcement is less important than social engineering and attacking crime and that drugs are really not nothing or anything to get worked up about.

But unfortunately this liberal approach has failed over and over and over again through the decades. And Americans are tired of being guinea pigs in a discredited liberal-leaning laboratory of leniency. We've got to change things. If we're going to make it work we've got to change things.


And the same liberalism keeps showing itself throughout the administration's crime policies. Yes, the president talks about being tough on crime, but as with so much else that this administration does, his actions tell a different story than his words. He talks like Dirty Harry, but he acts like Barney Fife.


Some may be too young to remember Barney Fife, but he — for example, while states have been trying to make prison time hard time, the administration's been harassing them. It has launched law suits designed to make prisoner's lives easier.

DOLE: In Maryland, the administration even threatened to sue the state's Democratic governor because the state's highest security prison system served lukewarm soup or food to its inmates.

They have also gone to court to protect the power of federal judges to take over state prisons, and compel states to release prisoners who have not served their time.

These judges can be a menace to public safety. They have been a menace to public safety many, many times.


And since we're in Philadelphia, let's talk about Philadelphia. Here in Philadelphia, a federal judge put a population cap on the city's jail. In one 18-month period following the judge's decree, more than 9,700 — that's almost 10,000 — of the criminals who had been set free because of the cap were rearrested.

Well, what happened while they were out there? They committed 79 murders, 90 rapes, 701 burglaries, 959 robberies, 1,113 assaults, 2,715 drug dealing crimes, and 2,748 thefts.

Now, these are chilling statistics created by meddling, liberal judges. Created by meddling, liberal judges.


What about the policeman or the policewoman on the beat? What about their lives and their families and their safety? What about the prosecutors who work and work and work?

In my administration, there won't be any liberal judges on the bench. We'll appoint conservative, no-nonsense judges who understand the Constitution.

Meanwhile, prosecuting violent criminals has become a low priority in the Clinton Justice Department. They were forced to admit recently that fewer than 18 prosecutions have been brought under the Violence Against Women Act — only 18.

As a matter of policy, they've adopted a new and risky rule of not requiring U.S. attorneys to prosecute the most serious crimes that a suspect stands accused of, believe it or not.

They have watered down the federal mandatory sentencing laws. They have even argued before the Supreme Court for a weakened interpretation of federal laws against child pornography.

But perhaps most destructive, as I indicated — the president has appointed these liberal judges who have become notorious nationwide for bending the law. For what reason? To let the criminal go free.

Let me give you some examples. One disregarded sentencing guidelines to give short time to a man convicted of murder for hire, explaining that the defendant was naive. What about the victim?

Another, speaking from a state court bench, described a brutal, racially-motivated killing as a — quote — "social awareness case."

DOLE: And that judge was rewarded by President Clinton with a seat on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, the second highest court in the land.

And yet another judge — and Governor Pataki knows about this one, a decision that made national headlines — threw out drug evidence and a voluntary confession, claiming at first that it did not constitute suspicious behavior for drug dealers to run from police. That was not suspicious behavior. Threw it out. Then after a lot of public outcry he reversed himself.

So from packing the federal court with ideological liberals to running up the white flag in the war on drugs to taking a go easy approach in prosecuting criminals, this administration's crime policies can be summed up in the phrase, Speak loud but carry a small stick. Probably no stick at all.

Another way of putting it would be like this. Campaign like a conservative and govern like a liberal. It's not going to happen. The American people are going to find out about it. They're going to find out about it.


So it's time to end the phony conservative rhetoric that tries to mask liberalism in action. It's time to return to what works in fighting crime. What works in fighting crime is fighting criminals. I can't find any other thing, any other thing that works.

So I want to lay out some things we wish to do, and I want to share the point that Jack Kemp made. I don't want anybody involved in crime. It's ties into our economic package. We want young people to have families. We want to keep families together.

We want young people to have jobs. We want to empty the prisons because there's no need for them. We'll use them for something else.

But in the meantime we have to be realistic. We'll be working up and down both streets at the same time. But in the meantime we've got to protect a lot of innocent people, millions and millions of innocent people in this country.

And first and foremost, we will close down the drugs to crime to violent crime pipeline. And my goal will be to cut teenage drug use in America by 50 percent in my first term in office as president of the United States — 50 percent.


Fifty percent.


And when I'm president...


And when I'm president I don't intend to wink at drugs. I intend to wipe them out. And I've recently spoken about the comprehensive action that I will take against drugs, from restoring the Office of National Drug Control Policy, to making certain that prosecutors once again bring the full sanction of law against drug criminals, preventing drugs from ever reaching our shores in the first place by using what we would use against any invader, our armed forces, in this case the National Guard, to keep it out of America. And we'll do that.


DOLE: And I will work with business leaders to help ensure a drug-free workplace.

Our nation cannot remain the most competitive and productive country in the world if employers are losing the battle against drugs in factories and offices. But most of all, I want to change the message coming from the White House. I will use the bully pulpit of the President of the United States to say to young people drugs are deadly. And teenagers who have been deceived into believing that drugs are something you must experiment with will hear a very different message from Bob Dole and from Jack Kemp.

I will make the moral issue clear: there is right, and there is wrong, and drug use is wrong. There is right, and there is wrong, and drug use is wrong.


In other words, as president, both by action and teaching, I will work to close off the opening to the crime pipeline.

The second point in my action plan against violent crime and drugs is to work with the nation's governors to end the revolving door justice system by taking such measures as abolishing parole for violent criminals — abolishing parole for violent criminals.


And we can't do it alone. That's why the governors are here to lend their support.

I think it's time to end this cruel charade of releasing these criminals from prison after they've served only a fraction of their sentences. Again, what about the victims? It's with them for a lifetime — a lifetime. Keep in mind the victims.

Almost one out of every three murders, rapes, or assaults is committed by someone on parole — one out of three on parole or probation, or pre-trial release. In my view, that must come to an end. We're just asking for trouble by letting that happen over and over again all across America. And we're going to stop it, working with the governors...


... because I said the list of victims of lenient parole policy is too long and too tragic to repeat here today.

But it does include 12-year-old Polly Klaas, and James Jordan, Michael Jordan's father. Both were murdered by men on parole. If those men had been compelled to serve their full sentences, both Polly Klaas and James Jordan would be alive today.

As president, to make certain this happens, I will double federal funding for state prison construction so that the governors can help us put violent — let me underscore violent — criminals in prison, and keep them in prison where they can't commit crimes.


DOLE: And equally important — and this is important — my efforts to help law-abiding citizens, the people here today and all across America who live in neighborhoods infested with crime and violence.

We want to give people incentives for entrepreneurship in those areas. We want to transform these areas from combat zones to enterprise zones, with hope and opportunity and jobs available for people to keep them off drugs and keep them out of crime in the first place, as I said earlier. This is the real goal of Bob Dole and Jack Kemp, but we can't wait for that to happen. But we're going to work on it.

And third point in my action plan is to hold juvenile criminals fully accountable for their crimes — fully accountable.


And of course we don't want them entering crime at all in the first place. We hope it never happens. But the best preventive message is the simplest. If you commit an adult crime, you will serve adult time. That will be the message from my administration.


And there are other steps we can take. Teenagers who rape and rob and murder should not be automatically released when they turn 18 or 20. This happens in some places today. And the records of those violent juvenile offenders should be made available to the courts, law enforcement, and for employment in sensitive jobs, especially those involving work with children.

Sometimes you never know. You never know. And they ought to be made public. They ought to be released.


And what we're offering is tough love. This is about love. It is about the future. It is about young Americans.

And if we can make it clear to young people who might be tempted into crime of any sort, that it does not pay, and in fact there is a cost, we may be able to save thousands and thousands from taking that tragic lifestyle choice. That is the ultimate goal, and will be the ultimate goal in our administration.

And the fourth point in my plan against violent crimes and drugs is to make prisoners work. Make prisoners work once they're incarcerated. Make prisoners work.


And too many prisoners spend their time watching television. I think it may have been in Arizona, governor, where they couldn't get color television and they filed a suit — or somewhere in the country it happened. The spend their time working out in weight rooms and pursuing frivolous lawsuits.

We will put federal prisoners to work full-time and use the earnings of their labor to help compensate the victims of their crime. Compensate the victims of their crimes.


It just seems to me that fairness and common sense tell us that prison should not be vacation time, and that criminals should work at least as hard a law-abiding citizens today who pay twice for what criminals do to society.

DOLE: If you're law abiding, you do this. You pay it.

First the cost of the crime to society as a whole, and secondly, the cost of supporting the convicted criminals in prison. We will work at the federal level and with the states to enact these reforms and make prison what it should be, humane but hard — very hard.

A place to which no criminal will ever want to return. Maybe they'll go out and stay on the straight and narrow, stay on the straight and narrow.


And the final point, in this blueprint working with the governors to stop violent crime and to stop drugs is to take real and effective federal action, to keep guns out of the hands of violent criminals.

And let me tell you about it, you don't read a lot about it, the press doesn't get very excited about it, it's called Instant Check. And I will make implementation of the National Instant Check System a top priority in my administration. Seventeen states already have it, and here's what it is very simply.

No one who's been convicted of a serious crime should be able to buy a gun, any gun, a handgun, a shotgun, a rifle, any gun.


And there are about eight categories already in the law. If you have a dishonorable discharge, if you're a convicted felon, if you're adjudicated mentally insane, and the categories go one.

And everyone should understand that keeping guns from criminals will be a dramatic change from the current administration's policies. Oh, they talk tough about guns, every opportunity they have to talk about guns.

They talk about assault weapons. We did ban 19 assault weapons, but a dozen are already back on the streets because all they had to do was modify them.

If we want to get tough, we do the Instant Check.

You walk in to buy a gun — anybody in this audience — you give them your identification. You put a little card in, and just like buying anything else, if it says tilt you don't get the goods. You don't get the groceries. You don't get the guns.

And today, what has the administration done, they have practically dismantled what was known as Project Trigger Lock, a nationwide program started in the Bush administration aimed at prosecuting and putting in prison violent and repeat offenders who violate federal firearms laws.

What's happened? As a result, the number of defendants subject to Project Trigger Lock prosecution has decreased by 25 percent since this administration took office.

And in my administration, Project Trigger Lock will become a number one priority again, as it should be. If you use a gun, you're going to get in trouble in a Dole-Kemp administration. If you use a gun in the commission of a crime, you're going to be in serious trouble in a Dole-Kemp administration.


So the bottom line is, as I conclude, is it's time to get serious about violent crime and drugs in a way that we have not seen in our government over the last four years.

DOLE: But what we are talking about is not just a policy of our government, but the character of our country.

The actions of the president and the government he leads must convey the message drugs and violent are morally repugnant in a free society. That must be the message every day, every day, every day.


And, oh, how soon we forget. In 1929 there was a gangster shoot-out in Chicago that is remembered in history as the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Seven men died in that massacre and that shocked the nation. It shocked the peaceful nation.

You know what the story is today. Today in some American cities, as many people have been murdered in a single weekend and almost no notice is paid. No notice is paid.

Is this where our good nation is headed?

Well, James Q. Wilson wrote brilliantly on these issues.

And he noted — to quote him — "and I say to de-stigmatize crime would be to lift from it the weight of moral judgment and to make crime simply a particular occupation" — end of quote.

We must not allow that kind of moral poverty to take root in America. We must have leadership from the top that says through every means at its disposal that violent crime and drugs are wrong. Violent crime and drugs are wrong. Violent crime and drugs are wrong. And you'll think the record is stuck in a Dole-Kemp administration.

We're going to say it over and over and over. We need that kind of leadership.


We're going to have leadership to shut down the crime pipeline. We're going to give a clear, unambiguous, emphatic no to the moral laxity that has allowed the crime pipeline to become so full over the last four years.

And I will dedicate my presidency to restoring the clarity with which our government speaks.

DOLE: So I would just ask you — as I said in the outset, I don't know of any more serious subject than crime and drugs and I won't to ask for show of hands but I've had a lot of people here who have been subject to some kind of criminal attack.

It's not happening somewhere else. It's happening here. It's happening in the next city, in the next state. It's happening in my state. And could we wipe it all out? Probably not. Can we try to wipe it all out? Yes. Can we try to save America's young people from this terrible tragedy? Yes. And that's an obligation we have.

They're somebody's child, somebody's children, somebody who loves them. But in many cases, nobody loves them. No place to go. No place to turn. We'll create a 1,000 new community-based groups to help us in this effort. To help us with the children, help us with crime, help us with drugs. But, we can't make it happen unless we get elected. All these governors are going to a great job in their states.

But to coordinate it and to put it together and to make it work it work for you, make it work for America, make it work for your family, your neighbors, make it work for the DeLasandro family been waiting 23 years and worried every month that the murderer may be paroled.

So, I would just say, you know, give my your help. I'm not a rocket scientist. This is not a rock science. This is life and death. Life and death. And I want you to give me your support and give me your vote and join with me so that we can bring a new day, a better day to our nation for ourselves and our children and the generations yet to come.

It's important. It's not about Bob Dole. It's not about Jack Kemp. It's not about Bill Clinton or Al Gore. It's about America. It's not about your politics — Liberal, conservative, Democrat, Independent, Republican. It's about America, about the future, about your kids, about your school.

And none of us are perfect. But some of us have different views and stronger convictions and more commitment. And we see it happening day after day after day, violent crime — violent crime. And so I thank you all for letting me be here today. I thank you for letting me participate with Jack Kemp and the governors and Tom Ridge, thank you very much.

Bill Bennett, thank you for coming.

Thanks a lot.

God bless America.

We're going to win the race.


Robert Dole, Remarks at Villanova University in Philadelphia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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