Pubdate: Tue, 19 Sep 2000
Source: Corpus Christi Caller-Times (TX)
Copyright: 2000 Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Address: P.O. Box 9136, Corpus Christi, TX 78469-9136
Author: Steven A. Capps, Scripps-McClatchy Western Service


SACRAMENTO, Calif. - U.S. Senate Republican candidate Tom Campbell on Monday said he would travel throughout California this week to focus attention on charting a new course for America's war on drugs.

The San Jose congressman, in a speech to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, said his plan will emphasize treatment of addicts, an end to federal support for drug interdiction efforts in Colombia, harsher punishment for pushers - including the death penalty for drug dealers who sell to children 12 and younger - and new drug detection and treatment programs in prisons.

Campbell said needle exchange programs should be permitted, and renewed his call for the legalization of local health facilities where doctors could prescribe illegal drugs for addicts seeking treatment.

"What I intend ... is to offer solutions where others, playing it safe politically, would choose to stay with a failed status quo," Campbell said in his prepared remarks. He called on his opponent, U.S. Dianne Feinstein, D-San Francisco, to offer her own plan before criticizing his.

"Sen. Feinstein's handlers will say I'm soft on drugs," he said. "They'll belittle me for being a professor, a teacher. They already have. They'll say my ideas belong in the classroom and me along with them. That's what they've already said.

"They won't honestly engage in this topic," he said. "They will continue to skew and distort my position to enhance the senator's claim to the mantle of 'tough on drugs.'"

Kam Kuwata, a spokesman for the Feinstein campaign, said Feinstein has demonstrated her views on the war on drugs through her votes in Congress. "I think Congressman Campbell believes that you either have interdiction or you have treatment," he said. "We would disagree. In our view, the way to combat drug abuse is to have both."

Feinstein is critical of Campbell's call for the legalized drug clinics. Kuwata said while Feinstein supports treatment programs, she does not believe in giving drugs to addicts.

While Campbell has suggested the clinics generally, he is scheduled to provide details of his proposal later in the week.

Campaign aides said, however, that the clinics would provide only depressant drugs such as heroin, not cocaine or other stimulant drugs - a distinction the congressman has not made in the past.

Campbell said by the end of the week, he will have provided details of a four-point program to change the direction of the country's war on drugs.

"This is my suggestion for a strategy - providing treatment to those who need it by allowing communities to be flexible, without losing sight of public safety; protecting and educating our children; keeping drugs out of prisons and prisoners off of drugs; and the sternest penalties for those who caused this war in the first place," he said.

Kuwata said he was still waiting to hear further details of the Campbell plan. "The unfortunate thing is that with 10 years in the Congress, he has not offered it as a piece of legislation that could be covered in public hearings and fully discussed," he said.
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MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager