The 'New' Bob Dole: Same Speech, a Bit More Bite
Daniel Sneider, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor
After Bob Dole's dramatic resignation from the US Senate two weeks ago, pundits hailed the emergence of a "new Bob," a man who had shed his lawmaking burdens and now stood ready to revitalize his flagging presidential campaign.
But the man who appeared on the stump this week in California was one part new Bob and one part old. He returned to familiar Republican themes of crime, welfare, and illegal immigration. Yet his lines carried more of an edge, suggesting a more aggressive campaign style.
Appearing Wednesday at a park in the blighted San Diego community of City Heights, Dole the political warrior was in evidence.
"When I become president of the United States, there are going to be two wars declared," Mr. Dole opened his speech. "A war on illegal immigration and a war on drugs."
With a passing reference to the need for empathy for young people drawn into drugs, the former senator from Kansas moved to the assault. "We need to get tough on those who peddle drugs to our children. We need to lock 'em up and lock 'em up and keep them locked up."
While announcing that crime is not a partisan issue, in his next breath Dole blamed the Clinton administration for statistics showing a rise in recent years in some forms of drug use by youth.
"America was winning the war on drugs," Dole said. "Then along came the Clinton-Gore administration."
Dole advisers almost crow about this new aggressive mood to the campaign.
"This is not going to be a softball campaign," Ken Khachigian, the new head of Dole's California campaign, told reporters. After the candidates emerge from the conventions - and Dole is once again flush with spendable cash - President Clinton will face "80 days of hell," he says. The Dole attack on Clinton will be "active, partisan, and intended to throw the other side off balance when we can," Mr. Khachigian vows.
During his California campaign stops, the veteran legislator continued to display a political character that is by now firmly fixed. He relies on a common-sense prairie conservatism, leavened by a compassion that flows directly from his own climb out of the adversity of Depression-era Kansas and his inspiring recovery from war wounds. …