Clinton Talks Tough on Crime, Gets Police Endorsement
CINCINNATI, Ohio (AllPolitics, Sept. 16) -- In a first for a Democratic presidential candidate, President Bill Clinton picked up the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police, the nation's largest police organization.
The president addressed the group today from the same city where, four years ago, the FOP endorsed George Bush's re-election effort. Clinton has already received the support of two other police organizations.
"You do not have to put up with an unacceptable rate of crime and violence," Clinton declared, flanked by police officers. "The crime rate has come down for four years in a row for the first time in a long time and I'm proud of that, but it's still too high and we all know it." (314K AIFF or WAV sound)
The president said that anti-crime efforts are moving in the right direction, citing legislation providing for 100,000 new police officers on the street, tougher penalties for repeat offenders, the Violence Against Women Act, an expanded death penalty, and gun control laws.
Clinton highlighted the importance of the assault weapons ban and the Brady Bill, saying, "We don't believe that police should be easily outgunned by gangs on the streets."
He laid part of the reasons for the 1994 Republican take-over of Congress on special interest groups, who Clinton said told Americans that Democrats were going to take away their guns. "When we passed the assault weapons ban and when we passed the Brady Bill, a lot of good people who voted for those bills were defeated in 1994 in the race for Congress," the president said.
"Well, they got a lot of votes with that line in 1994 but they've got a big problem in 1996," he continued. "Two hunting seasons have come and gone and not a single hunter in Ohio or Arkansas has lost their weapons. But a lot of criminals don't have assault weapons and 60,000 felons, fugitives and stalkers could not get a handgun because of the Brady Bill. We did the right thing." (512K AIFF or WAV sound)
Responding to the GOP onslaught over his drug record, Clinton declared, "We've also supported zero tolerance for guns and drugs in schools."
"We proposed the largest anti-drug effort in history, and I hope that Congress will give us the extra $700 million we asked for so that we can do everything possible to really effectively turn these trends around and make sure that we have drug use going down, not just among adults, which it is...but (also) among children. We can't have these kids out there believing they are not in danger when they are."
With four more years, the president promised to "break the gangs, ban those cop-killer bullets, (impose) drug testing from parolees, improve the opportunities for community-based strategies to lower crime, and give our children something to say 'yes' to." (462K AIFF or WAV sound)
The official FOP endorsement came about the same time GOP candidate Bob Dole was delivering a major address on crime and drugs from Villanova University near Philadelphia. Earlier in the day, the Kansan sought to downplay losing the police endorsement, telling reporters that the FOP vote, "wasn't unanimous. You know, he got the leadership rank and file."
"We see the police at every stop and I wouldn't say they're unanimous, but I'll bet 80 percent of the police we've met are going to be for Bob Dole," the nominee continued. "That's pretty much clear across the country."
Before his speech, Clinton was joined by Attorney General Janet Reno in the Oval Office where he highlighted a new report that cites the federal RICO statutes, traditionally used to fight organized crime, as effective in fighting gang crime. The president encouraged Congress to expand the statute of limitations for violent crime and gangs from 5 to 10 years.
"We can bring down the level of youth violence and gang-related violence in our country if we work at it in a systematic, disciplined, tough way," Clinton said.
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