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Separating Fact From Spin On Drug Ads

By Brooks Jackson/CNN

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Sept. 23) -- It's an epidemic. It's breaking out in millions of American homes. What is it? Campaign TV ads about drugs.

Bob Dole's new ad, entitled "School," is part of his biggest ad blitz yet -- $5 million across 20 states. It calls President Bill Clinton soft on drugs.



Dole Ad


"In front of our children, on MTV," goes the ad, "the president answered this question... 'If you had it to do over again, would you inhale?'...this way: 'Sure, if I could. I tried before.' "

But wait a minute! Clinton's ads say Dole is soft on drugs. "Dole voted against even creating the office of a drug czar. President Clinton strengthened school anti-drug programs. Dole/Gingrich tried to slash them fifty percent."

Let's separate the facts from the political spin.

According to Dole's "School" ad: "Teenage drug use has doubled since 1992."

Well, that's right. In the latest study, nearly 11 percent of those from 12 to 17 years old said they'd used some illegal drug within the previous month, up from 5.3 percent in 1992.



Clinton ad


From Dole's "School" ad: "And Bill Clinton? He cut the White House drug office 83 percent. His own surgeon general even considered legalizing drugs."

That's not the whole story. Lately the president has restored the drug office, and he eventually fired surgeon general Joycelyn Elders.

Dole's "School" ad pictures Clinton saying, "I tried before."

That's Clinton, all right. Now he says he was wrong to try marijuana.

His ads proclaim him a drug-buster. From a Clinton ad: "President Clinton is fighting drugs -- appointed a four-star general drug czar."

Well, yes, but Clinton didn't make that appointment until his State of the Union address this year.

The new anti-drug slogan Dole unveiled last week is "Just don't do it. Just don't do it." Sound familiar? Dole is reviving the strategy of the Reagan years, Nancy's "Just Say No" campaign. But Clinton ads say Dole is a recent convert to the cause.

Clinton's drug ad says, "Dole voted against even creating the office of a drug czar."

That's not the whole story. Dole voted against a drug czar in 1982 when Ronald Reagan didn't want one. In 1988 Dole co-sponsored legislation to create a drug czar.

Clinton's drug ad states that "President Clinton strengthened school anti-drug programs. Dole/Gingrich tried to slash them fifty percent."

That's also not the whole story. Dole did vote for such a cut in 1995, in a big "Safe and Drug-Free Schools" spending bill the president vetoed. But Democrats cut the same program in earlier years.

If Clinton is a latecomer to the drug fight, what about Dole? As recently as January -- responding to the president's State of the Union address -- he never mentioned the subject.



[Spindex '96]

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