DOLE TAKES ON DRUG ISSUE : CLINTON FAULTED FOR `NAKED' LACK OF LEADERSHIP.
Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole offered a strong anti-drug message Wednesday to 1,100 students who packed a gymnasium at Chaminade high school:
``Just Don't Do It.''
With public opinion polls showing Dole trailing President Clinton by double digits in California, the former senator unveiled a new anti-drug slogan that's a cross between the Reagan-era catch phrase ``Just say no,'' and the Nike athletic shoe ad line, ``Just do it.''
He also escalated his attack on Clinton, assailing the president for a ``naked failure of leadership'' in the war on drugs and for the first time personally lambasting the president for his youthful experimentation with marijuana.
``Bill Clinton, you'll remember, was asked on MTV, before an audience of teen-agers, if he would inhale marijuana given the chance again,'' Dole recounted. ``Laughing, he told them, `Sure, if I could. I tried before.'
``Think about that for a moment,'' Dole continued. ``Teen-agers, many struggling with the lure of drugs, have seen a United States president make light of his own experimentation. A president is supposed to show the way. This president has shown his moral confusion.''
Dole chose the private Chaminade College Preparatory High School for his speech because the school's anti-drug program includes random searches of the campus by drug-sniffing dogs.
Dole also took aim at Hollywood, accusing the entertainment industry of glamorizing drugs.
``There can be no question that the trendiest trend of our popular culture is the return of drug use,'' Dole said. ``I have a message to the fashion, music and film industries: Take your influence seriously. Respect your talent and power. Stop the commercialization of drug abuse. Stop the glorification of slow suicide.''
Dole singled out two critically acclaimed movies - ``Pulp Fiction'' and ``Trainspotting'' - as examples of films he said ``feature the romance of heroin.
``The latter has been reviewed as the `first funny, upbeat look at heroin addiction.' Just what America needs,'' Dole said.
Quentin Tarantino, the director of ``Pulp Fiction,'' accused Dole of ``pandering and puppeteering'' in attacking a film he said the candidate has not seen himself.
``If Bob Dole had actually seen `Pulp Fiction,' he'd see that it does not romanticize heroin use,'' Tarantino said in a statement. ``In fact, the most harrowing scene in the film is the one where Uma Thurman's character almost dies from a heroin overdose. After watching that scene, you could hardly call the use of heroin in ``Pulp Fiction'' romanticized or glamorous. The day that Bob Dole actually sees my movie, I'll expect a public apology.''
``Trainspotting'' producer Andrew Macdonald also has said the film does not glamorize drug use, but instead shows the wasted lives of heroin addicts.
In response to Dole's attack on the president, the Clinton campaign accused the Republican challenger of making a personal attack to divert attention from his own poor record on the issue.
``The president has explained what happened. He made an off-the-cuff remark. But if you look at his record, he has a strong anti-crime and anti-drug record,'' Clinton campaign spokeswoman Lisa Davis said in Washington.
Clinton supporters charge that Dole has previously paid little attention to the drug issue, voting as a senator to cut funding for school anti-drug programs and opposing the creation of a national anti-drug czar.
They also note Clinton's recent appointment of retired four-star Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, a Desert Storm veteran, as the administration's new drug policy coordinator.
Dole, in turn, said Clinton slashed the staff of the national drug czar by 83 percent soon after taking office, reduced the number of federal drug enforcement agents in 1994 and cut the Pentagon's drug interdiction budget throughout his tenure.
Dole chose the Valley as the backdrop for Wednesday's speech because it is a pivotal ``swing area'' that Dole hopes to capture in November despite the strong support Clinton found there in 1992 against then-President Bush, said Ken Khachigian, Dole's California campaign manager.
``A lot of people voted for Clinton last time, and we think they're ready for something new,'' Khachigian said.
State Sen. Cathie Wright, R-Simi Valley, said she thought West Hills was a good choice for Dole's message.
``This is really very much a family-oriented community, and they're very much concerned about their children,'' she said.
Wright predicted that the Valley would go to Dole as long as he continues to court California.
As for the school, Chaminade was selected in large part because of its own ``exceptional program to keep kids off drugs,'' said Z. Greg Kahwajian, executive director of Dole's California campaign.
He said links to prominent Republicans also played a role.
Sean Walsh, the press secretary for Gov. Pete Wilson, is a Chaminade alumnus, and the grandniece of Dole running mate Jack Kemp attends Chaminade middle school in Chatsworth.
The campaign decided on a private school to avoid raising questions about ``using a public school to help a political campaign get its message out,'' Kahwajian said.
Dole's anti-drug speech was generally well received by the student population of Chaminade. Students repeatedly chanted Dole's newly coined ``Just Don't Do It'' phrase in unison with the candidate.
``I think he had a good message on teen drug abuse and how we can stop that problem in our nation,'' said Ted Kokosinski, 14, a freshman from Valencia.
``It was exciting,'' said Josh Marx, 16, a sophomore from Woodland Hills. ``It was a good message to everybody. It was good to hear a leader here to tell people what's right, and give people a positive image.''
Later Wednesday, Dole fell off a stage at a campaign rally in Chico after a frail railing gave way, but he wasn't hurt. ``I just went over the top,'' he joked.
Dole, 73, was on stage leaning over the decorative railing to shake hands with supporters before his speech when the frail barrier gave way and the candidate fell more than three feet to the ground on his war-injured right side. His fall was broken in part by photographers.
Campaign spokesman Nelson Warfield said Dole was largely unhurt. ``He has a little bit of blood in his left eye. He might have broken a blood vessel. But he feels great,'' said Warfield.
Following his speech in West Hills, Dole was driven by motorcade to Studio City, where he addressed a lunchtime rally of about 200 Republican activists from various ethnic and minority groups backing Dole around the state.
Participants included Americans of Chinese, Korean, Cambodian, Armenian, Hungarian and Latino heritage.
``I think Asians, our values are very close to the Republican Party,'' said Lily Kuo, a fund-raiser and political consultant from Los Angeles. ``Most of us are fiscally conservative, and we have a lot of family values that we treasure. They have a lot of things that they talk about that we truly identify with.''
PHOTO (1 -- color) Bob Dole unveils his anti-drug slogan at a rally at Chaminade high school in West Hills.
(2) GOP presidential hopeful Bob Dole addresses a gathering of ethnic minority groups at Sportsmen's Lodge.
Bob Halvorsen/Daily News
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Sep 19, 1996|
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