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Senator Dole''s Radio Address

July 20, 1996

Hello, this is Bob Dole. This week, all Americans are united in sorrow. Elizabeth and I join all of you in extending our sympathies to the family and friends of those lost aboard TWA Flight 800. If the ongoing investigation reveals that this was an act of terrorism, then all Americans will be totally united in our resolve to bring those responsible to justice.

I would ask that you now join me in a moment of silence for the victims of TWA Flight 800. Thank you.

For the next several weeks, our country has the honor of hosting the Olympic games. Beginning today, the hard work and perseverance of many members of the United States team will be rewarded with Olympic medals. In turn, those medal winners will be interviewed and profiled by the media, and many young Americans will regard them as heroes and role models.

So today I would like to publicly offer another challenge to all America's medal winners — indeed, all our Olympic athletes.

It's not a challenge that involves running or swimming or jumping. It's a challenge that involves saving young lives.

I would ask that all these outstanding athletes unite in a common mission of using part of their moment in the spotlight to tell America's kids that drug use is wrong and that drugs kill. That's a message that must be repeated again and again — not just by Olympic athletes but by all of us, if we are to stop the alarming increase in drug use by America's youth.

I've often said that fighting drugs should not be a partisan issue. After all, a drug dealer does not ask our children whether his parents are Democrats or Republicans before he tries to peddle his poison.

The sad fact is, however, that the war on drugs will be tougher to win because of three years of misguided policies of the Clinton administration. It will be tougher to win because one of the president's first actions was to cut the staff of the Office of National Drug Policy by 80 percent. It will be tougher to win because ineffective efforts to keep drugs from crossing our border and reaching our shores have increased the supply of drugs while decreasing the price.

It will be tougher to win because a dangerous message was sent to our kids by President Clinton's surgeon general who vocally supported legalization of certain drugs. It will be tougher to win because this administration's Justice Department has dramatically decreased the number of new federal drug prosecutions.

These and other actions led New York Democrat Congressman Charles Rangel, one of America's most respected antidrug crusaders, to say — and I quote — "I have been in Congress for over two decades, and I have never, never, never found any administration that has been so silent on this great challenge to the American people."

We are now reaping a shameful harvest for this silence. Since President Clinton took office, the number of 12- to 17-year-olds using marijuana has almost doubled, and the monthly use of illicit drugs has increased an average of 79 percent for students in the 8th to 12th grades.

And there's more bad news as well. LSD use has now reached the highest rates since record-keeping started in 1975. Methamphetamine use is up 321 percent since 1991. The number of cocaine-and heroin-related emergency room admissions has jumped to historic levels.

And a recent study reported that despite the fact that a number of popular recording artists have recently died of heroin overdoses, only half of those aged 12 to 17 understand the dangers of trying that deadly drug.

DOLE: Regaining the ground lost these past years will not be easy. But the sharp decline in drug use in America during the Reagan and Bush administrations is proof that it can be done.

Turning the tide will require the appointment of no-nonsense judges who'll require increased resources for our law enforcement community. It will requiring penalizing instead of rationalizing the behavior of those who use or sell drugs. It will require making clear to all countries that good relations and trade with the United States depend upon serious efforts to stop drug exports cold.

And as I said at the beginning, it will require the concerted efforts of all those who influence America's children — parents, teachers, religious leaders, athletes, public officials and those in the entertainment industry. A message that drugs are OK, are harmless fun, a message that has been seen in television and movies and heard in popular music on an increasing basis recently, is a message should not and must not tolerate.

We should also not forget our responsibility to let our kids know of the dangers posed by tobacco and alcohol.

Unfortunately, no one awards medals for helping kids make the right choices. But by working together to adopt tough anti-drug policies and by sending a strong anti-drug message throughout society then we will help to create a golden future for America's youth.

Thanks for listening. And I look forward to talking with you again next week.

Robert Dole, Senator Dole''s Radio Address Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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