Thank you for your kind welcome and the opportunity to be with you today.
As I have taken my campaign for president around the country, I have had the privilege of meeting many thousands of Americans, rich and poor, young and oldAmericans of every race, creed and ethnic background.
Each of them, like us, fortunate beyond measure to call home the greatest nation in the history of the world, each a precious reminder why I love my country. That's why I run for President.
I run because I know that unless we restore the people's sovereignty over government, renew their pride in public service, reform our public institutions to meet the demands of a new day and reinvigorate our sense of national purpose we will deny our destiny, we will abandon the cause of freedomthe cause our founding fathers called glorious.
I run for President not to be somebody but to do something. I run to return our government back to whom it belongsso that Americans can believe once again that public service is a summons to duty and not a lifetime of privilege; so that each of us will aspire to serve a cause greater than our self interest.
Today, a cause rooted in our nation's founding charter-- securing the domestic tranquilityis gravely threatened by the scourge of crime and illegal drugs.
We possess inalienable rights, given by God and protected by our Constitution, but our right to life is threatened by the violence on our streets; our right to liberty is circumscribed when families live in fear in their own homes; and our pursuit of happiness is corrupted by a drug problem that eats at the core of our culture.
My friends, we live in prosperous times. But, America has never been defined solely by our leading economic indicators. We are defined first and foremost, by our principles and our values, by who we are, more than how much we have.
And as Bill Bennett has pointed out so eloquently, our "leading cultural indicators" expose a moral poverty that Gen. Colin Powell once aptly described as a "loss of shame."
The progress we have made is due to the brave service and sacrifice of the men and women of law enforcement who have committed themselves to a great and noble cause, service to your country and your fellow citizens. The daily acts of love, courage and heroism of the long blue line, and those who support them, are not always known or appreciated by the public for whom you have devoted, and sometimes risked, your lives. The fact that's so makes your service and sacrifice even more heroic and noble. My friends we thank you and we love you.
I know you will agree that any comfort we take in declining crime rates should be tempered by still grim facts and the resolve not to tolerate the intolerable just because it might be a little better than it was. It remains a national disgrace that every 30 minutes an American is murdered; a disgrace that every 15 minutes a woman is battered, a disgrace that every year 700 metric tons of cocaine is produced, most of it consumed in the United States where it destroys almost everything it touches.
Crime is not a price we pay for freedom. It is freedom's enemy.
And, as President, I will fight that enemy with every fiber of my being.
We will enforce the nation's laws like we mean them -- by expanding nationwide programs such as "Project Exile" in Richmond where violent crime has been reduced with zero tolerance for gun possession by convicted criminals.
We will appoint judges who understand that their Constitutional duty requires them to interpret and uphold the law, not make it; who understand that their charge to safeguard individual rights includes the rights of every law-abiding member of their community, not just criminal defendants; and to see that the rights of victims are not subordinate to those of the criminal.
I am proud to have authored a law that doubled the fine imposed on federal felons. The money from those fines goes into a victim assistance fund for those who've suffered the injury of violent crime.
We will ensure that law enforcement funding and manpower are equal to the tough task before them and by helping state and local law enforcement authorities to better do their job.
Today, when the federal authorities seize criminal assets, they use the revenue to fill federal coffers. As President, I will see to it that the bulk of assets forfeited in jurisdictions with high rates of violent crime and drug activity remain in those communities to help clean them up.
I will use the bully pulpit of the Presidency to help families protect children from the ceaseless assault of violence-obsessed entertainment that has lost its moral compass to greed.
Before reaching age 16, the average child, sees 40,000 murders on television. Children play video games called Kop Killer; they listen to music titled "The 10 crack commandments" that instructs listeners in the do's and don'ts of drug dealing; and they access websites exposing them to every conceivable evil.
I am proud to have helped lead the successful fight for the television v-chip to help parents screen inappropriate programming. Today we're fighting to ensure that children who access the Internet in libraries and schools are protected from on-line pornography. And we're fighting to give parents the information they need to meet their solemn responsibilities.
America has a uniform labeling system for food to help parents make better choices about what goes into our children's bodies. It's time we label the content of all entertainment mediaa uniform system that informs parents if programming contains violence, sexually explicit material or inappropriate language so that we can make more informed decisions about what goes into our children's minds and hearts.
Their's are the minds and hearts that will shape the nation's tomorrows. It is for them that we strive to make better communities and a stronger country. And it is for our children that we must take on perhaps the greatest threat to the health and security of their future: the war on drugs. As President, I will fight that war with but one, single mission--to win it.
Despite overall declining crime rates, in the past five years there has been a 10 percent increase in the number of Americans reporting the use of illegal drugs, and one out of every 20 high school seniors report using marijuana on a daily basisa 180 percent jump since 1991.
Drug trafficking and the abuse of illegal narcotics is an American tragedy. The victims of drug abuse are not just the many souls tormented by addiction, families are destroyed, careers are ruined, and victims of drug abuse are losing their most important possession--their self-worth.
The drug trade is not someone else's problem, in someone else's neighborhood, in another school in some other part of town. The drug trade reaps a wide harvest of death, destruction and social decay, affecting us all.
Two thirds of those arrested for crimes including murder and theft test positive for at least one illegal drug.
Over 70 percent of the foster kids in New York City come from homes devastated by drug abuse.
Every day a new group of kids tries an illegal drug for the first time, many of who will move on to addiction.
Illegal drug use costs America $100 billion per year, a measure of untold human misery.
Despite the gains of the 1980's when great strides were made in reducing demand and blocking supply, drugs are once again fashionable. The Clinton Administration has been AWOL in the war on drugs and the tide of the battle is turning against us.
Forty percent of high school seniors say that drug abuse is a growing problem in their school.
Cocaine related emergency room visits are skyrocketing, and the use of heroin and cocaine by 8th graders has more than doubled since 1991.
A study released earlier this year by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University revealed that drug use among children in rural areas of the country has dramatically out-paced children living in urban areas, for example:
8th graders in rural areas were 70% likelier to have gotten drunk and 29% likelier to drink alcohol.
8th graders in rural areas were 104% likelier to use amphetamines; 50% likelier to use cocaine; 83% likelier to use crack cocaine and 34% more likely to use marijuana.
Among 10th graders, use rates in rural areas exceed those in urban areas for every drug except marijuana and the drug known as ecstasy.
Among 12th graders, use rates in rural areas exceeded those in urban areas for cocaine, crack, amphetamines, inhalants, alcohol, cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.
The bully pulpit is vacant. The Oval office is merely an echo chamber when it comes to the drug issue. What does it say to brave American heroes working to protect our kids from drug pushers when the Vice President responds to the question of whether he inhaled by saying "as deeply as I could."
America once asked its sons and daughters to fight a war it wasn't committed to winning and our nation paid a terrible price. The drug agent risking his life in Central America; the Border Patrol officer standing her guard at a lonely post in the desert Southwest; the city cops and county sheriffs who go to war every day against the street gangs armed to the teeth with drug money -they know the awful feeling of a just cause failed by half-hearted political leadership.
It is a deadly indifference that nourishes the ill-conceived notion that the war on drugs cannot be won so it's time to waive the white flag of legalization.
Ask the recovering drug addict whether cocaine, crack and heroin should be legal. Ask the residents in Baltimore on the blocks where drug bazaars were allowed to operate in the opena misguided experiment in de-facto legalization--whether we should throw in the towel. Go to the nearest elementary school and look those kids in the eye and ask yourself whether we should step out of the way and give the pushers free rein.
Surrender is not an option when the terms of peace would only mean more addiction, more death, more community decay and family destruction.
The answer is not capitulation, but rather renewed commitment. It's time once again to draw the line and "Just Say No" not just as individuals but as a society.
The next President must be a Commander in Chief in the war on drugs and it must be fought on three fronts with unambiguous purpose: vanquish demand; slash supply; and widen access to addiction treatment.
With respect to demand, let's focus on the three "E" s: example; education and enforcement. We can't expect our kids to follow our instruction when parents, role models and political leaders fail to set a good example. Good examples are the foundation of effective anti-drug education and prevention programs that must be robust, aggressive and repetitive. The shocking statistics on drug use in rural areas require that we re-examine the drug budget to assure that we adequately address the changing face of the narcotics problem.
And, the failure to vigorously enforce our drug laws will simply tell kids that we're not really serious, that our words of warning are empty gestures.
We must never forget that enforcement is not merely meting out punishment for the violation of a law, it is a life-saver. Many of the people receiving the care they need were placed in treatment through the legal system.
When it became apparent that first time non-violent drug offenders were literally crowding dangerous criminals out of our prisons, drug courts were created to divert these offenders to treatment, while keeping the dangerous criminals behind bars where they belong.
In my home state of Arizona all first time drug offenders are given the opportunity for diversion into treatment, and this approach is saving lives. But tough love requires that there be consequences for those who fail to meet their legal obligations.
Many teen drug offenders need help and guidance. They need to know that society cares and feel the redemptive power of discipline.
I propose we unleash a great and untapped national resource to come to the aid of troubled youthour veterans. As President, I would appoint a blue-ribbon panel of active and retired military leaders; veterans, parents; juvenile justice authorities; and experts in child development to devise a nationwide program for pairing troubled teens with veteran mentors trained to help teach needy youths the virtues of discipline, civic responsibility, integrity and character.
Such a program can serve as a vital resource for juvenile courts and other state and local programs. Veterans have answered their country's call once. They will answer it again to help those who need a helping hand.
As we take up the challenge of reducing demand, and increasing treatment, we must attack with greater energy the problem of supply. This recognizes the basic tenets of economics, that when supply is plentiful, prices decline and demand goes up. It's that simple. Today, drugs are plentiful and cheap. The supply lines must be cut.
The biggest threat in our hemisphere is no longer communist dictators, but drug lords trafficking in death, civil disorder and the destruction of democracyfinanced with U.S. drug profits.
The nation of Colombia has ceded an area roughly the size of Rhode Island to the narco-terroristsa sovereign beachhead that if left alone will grow, where enemies of civil society will foment terror in every corner of the Americas.
No longer will a domestic drug policy suffice. We must have an international drug strategyand a foreign policy that supports it.
Colombia and other nations must take risky actions to defend themselves and rid their nation of the latest generation of drug lords who mix their criminal activity with Marxist ideology. They will simply not try, much less succeed, without U.S. support.
If it takes additional military aid and assistance then so be it. But, with aid and assistance comes accountability to ensure that the resources we lend are properly employed and our objectives met.
History instructs us that appeasing evil leads to a much graver and costlier threat tomorrow.
My friends, it may be a wonderful time to be alive. Never have the prospects for mankind been greater. But, let's not let crime and drugs rob the next generation of its full potential to build an even better America and world.
Let's look our children in the eye and know that we are making a country and future worthy of their highest aspirations.
If we do that we will be serving a cause greater than our self- interest. An American cause. A cause worth fighting for.
Thank you for listening.