- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 9, 2000

RICHMOND U.S. Senate candidate and former Virginia Gov. George F. Allen promised yesterday that if he is elected in November, he would take Virginia's success in lowering its crime rate to the federal level by getting tough on drug dealers.

In his speech before the Richmond Kiwanis Club, Mr. Allen said drugs are responsible for the majority of violent crime, and those who are responsible should be in jail.

His plan would include more training and equipment to stop drugs from crossing into the country, a national drug-awareness program to keep youths from using drugs and a national equivalent for drugs to Virginia's Project Exile, a federal-state crackdown on gun violence that began as an experiment in Richmond and has been credited with dramatically reducing crime there. Project Exile calls for a mandatory five-year sentence for those who commit a felony with a gun.

"Project Drug Exile would give police officers and prosecutors more firepower in the war on drugs and provide additional funding to establish federal anti-drug enforcement and prosecution task forces," Mr. Allen said.

He pointed to the proliferation of methamphetamines as a problem that needs to be addressed, and proposed expanding to the federal level the program begun this year by his Republican successor, Gov. James S. Gilmore III of offering $10,000 bounties for information on drug kingpins.

Mr. Allen lumped his opponent Sen. Charles S. Robb, the Democratic incumbent, together with the president and vice president in saying the last eight years have seen an increase in drug use among children because of a failure at the federal level. He cited statistics showing the average age of heroin users in 1990 was between 26 and 27. In 1997, it was between 17 and 18.

"The Clinton-Gore-Robb crew have brought no moral authority to this issue," he said.

Mr. Allen said instead of going after illegal drugs, Mr. Robb along with the administration has chosen to focus on tobacco restrictions. Aides to Mr. Allen painted Mr. Robb's recent record on crime as consisting solely of support for gun-control measures.

Responding to a reporter's question, Mr. Allen said he has never used illegal drugs.

He also vehemently rejected the idea of legalizing some drugs, saying it's not an acceptable answer to the problem.

When given the chance by another reporter's question, Mr. Allen refused to take a shot at Mr. Robb, who reportedly attended parties where drugs were being used in the 1980s. Mr. Allen has said he doesn't plan on making Mr. Robb's character a campaign issue.

Jim Mulhall, Mr. Robb's campaign manager, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

State Democrats without Mr. Robb held a news conference yesterday in Richmond attacking Mr. Allen's record on senior citizens.

In particular, state Sen. Henry L. Marsh III, Richmond Democrat, said Mr. Allen's proposed tax cut plan would prevent the federal government from being able to pay for seniors' prescription drugs.

But Mr. Allen said the news conference amounted to Democrats coming up with another excuse to explain Mr. Robb's opposition to tax cuts.

Mr. Allen has previously given speeches on his education policy topped off by a tax credit for parents who spend money on school supplies, such as computers and on national defense. Those, coupled with public safety, are the three planks he's running on, he said.

• This story is based in part on wire service reports.

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