Gore Announces Crime Package, Criticizes Bush

Gore Announces Crime Package, Criticizes Bush
Posted by FoM on May 03, 2000 at 07:25:20 PT
By Terry M. Neal, Washington Post Staff Writer
Source: Washington Post
Vice President Gore today proposed a range of crime-fighting initiatives--from mandatory drug testing and treatment for prisoners to expanding the number of new federally funded police officers--and attacked the crime fighting record of his GOP rival, Texas Gov. George W. Bush. 
In doing so, the vice president sought to bask in the glow of seven straight years of falling crime rates and hold on to an issue that once belonged to Republicans. He also sought to steal a page out of Bush's recent strategy by presenting himself as a politician eager to reach out across party lines to create common-sense policies.Gore praised the Clinton administration's anti-crime model as a model of bipartisanship that embraced elements of conservative get-tough-on-crime ideology with liberal fight-the-causes-of-crime ideology. While promoting a greater federal role in crime fighting, he used the biblical story of Cain and Abel to underscore the need for greater personal and parental responsibility.Surrounded by scores of local politicians and law enforcement officers, Gore pledged that as president he would "launch a sweeping anti-crime strategy" and intensify the effort "against crime, drugs and disorder in our communities. If you give me the chance, I will be a law-and-order president."The Gore campaign billed today's speech as an opportunity for the candidate to expound on his own vision of crime fighting, but it was equally an opportunity to go after Bush, much as Gore has been doing in recent days on foreign and economic policy and social security. Gore saved the final five minutes of his 45-minute speech to attack Bush for paying scant attention to crime on the campaign trail, for offering a tax cut plan that would endanger efforts to put more police on the streets and for failing to deal with issues such as drug addiction in his own state."From what we have seen it is already clear that there are serious philosophical difference between us," Gore said. "He seems to believe that there is no national responsibility to help fight crime. I believe it is one of our greatest national responsibilities and as communities we should not have to go it alone."The vast majority of the dozens of proposals Gore made today or said he supported were not new. But some, such as a plan to allow all off-duty and retired police officers to carry concealed weapons as long as they pass a regular recertification test, were.The most significant is a proposal that would cost $500 million in the first year and that is aimed at curbing illegal drug use and drug crime. Gore said drug addiction was a major cause of the nation's high recidivism rates. He said access to drugs in jail, combined with prisoners' lack of access to drug treatment programs, virtually ensured the continued cycle of crimes. And he accused Bush of slashing drug treatment in Texas prisons.Gore spokesman Chris Lehane said drug treatment had been slashed to $188 million a year under Bush from $380 million a year under his predecessor, Democrat Ann Richards. He said that the national recidivism rate was 33 percent, while in Texas it was up from 40 percent under Richards to 50 percent under Bush--a number the Bush campaign said was unsubstantiated. Later, when pressed, Lehane said the 50 percent figure came from news reports, and he did not know the original source.Under Gore's anti-drug proposal the federal government would provide grants to states to test and treat targeted prisoners, as well as those on probation and parole. Failure to stay drug-free could result in return to prison or a longer sentence. He also proposed expanding drug courts, providing police with technology to determine and fight high-priority drug zones, and tougher penalties for people to who sell drugs to children.Bush's campaign responded angrily that Gore had misconstrued the governor's record. Spokesman Ari Fleischer said the $380 million figure Gore used represented a proposed budget from Richards that never passed, and that Bush increased spending on drug treatment in prisons from $101 million in 1994 to $144 million now. "Al Gore invents numbers just like he invented the Internet," Fleischer said.Bush's campaign also released a list of the governor's crime fighting accomplishments, claiming, among other things, that violent crime in Texas is at a 20-year low, that the parole approval rate is the lowest in more than 20 years and that spending on drug treatment, prevention and enforcement programs has risen substantially.Gore's proposal to allow all off-duty and retired police officers to carry concealed weapons as long as they pass a regular recertification test would preempt local and state laws and extend to all law enforcement officers the same rights as federal officers to carry their weapons off duty.Gore reiterated his support for a 10-year, $1.3 billion proposal he first offered last year to add 50,000 new officers to the 100,000 officers approved by Congress in 1994 along with a handful of other crime-fighting initiative. Gore also said he would push for toughening the laws for violent crimes committed in the presence of children.By Terry M. NealWashington Post Staff WriterWednesday, May 3, 2000; Page A08  2000 The Washington Post Company Related Articles:Gore: Give Prisoners Drug Tests To Propose $500 Million Anti-Drug Program Steers to the Center With Anti-Crime Proposal Articles On Al Gore: 
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