Sept. 16, 1996: Bob Dole speaking at Villanova University. He emphasized the twin evils of drugs and crime.
May 30, 1996: A speech given by President Clinton today in New Orleans to the International Women's Convention of the Church of God in Christ. The focus was youth and crime.
May 6, 1996: New strategies in metropolitan policing have led to a 2% drop in the national crime rate. But can the trend continue?
Jan 1, 1996: One city's attempt to deal with the number one crime problem in the U.S. - violent crime committed by teenagers. Betty Ann Bowser reports from Jacksonville, Florida.
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Crime is always a popular issue for campaigning politicians. Past national races have been witness to this. President Nixon made crime fighting a central plank of his two successful election campaigns. George Bush's success in 1988 can be attributed in part to the Willie Horton campaign ads. The ad accused Bush's opponent, Gov. Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts, of being lax on crime specifically for allowing convicted murderer's like Horton out of jail to commit more violent crimes.
In 1996, as before, poll after poll shows that voter's rate crime as one of the top of issues they want action on. And with good reason, crime rates are five times higher today than they were thirty years ago.
The Republicans see Crime as an issue where they have traditionally had an upper hand on the Democrats, who are portrayed as liberal and weak. Republicans continue to use it as an area of attack in this election, as their official campaign platform shows.
During Bill Clinton's tenure, America has become a more fearful place, especially for the elderly and for women and children. Violent crime has turned our homes into prisons, our streets and schoolyards into battlegrounds.
But the GOP is finding itself up against some circumstances different from past campaigns. A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll showed that Americans trusted Bill Clinton to do a better job on crime fighting than Bob Dole by a margin of 46 percent to 40 percent. And the reason seems to be the statistics.
Since 1991 FBI figures show that crime rates have dropped. More specifically, Justice Department figures show that violent crime has dropped 9 percent since 1995.
On the policy front, the Republican answer to crime is a firm hand. This includes abolishing parole for violent criminals; doubling funding for state prison construction; requiring all prisoners to work while serving time, using their wages to pay back the victims of crime; and creating an instant check system to deny gun purchases to violent criminals.
The Democrats on the other hand are running on their record that includes 1994's massive $30 billion crime bills signed by Clinton and passed by the then Democratic Congress. The bill features that authorized grants for 100,000 new police officers, new prison construction and prevention programs. The bill also banned 19 types of assault weapons, authorized the death penalty for dozens of federal crimes and adopted the "three strikes and you are out" rule mandating life sentences for three-time violent felons.
These answers, right or wrong, are the visions American's are being given to deal with crime. What we know is that which ohe voter's choose in November will affect the future of law and order in the country for years to come.