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Perry, Romney Burnish Drug Warrior Credentials

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #697)
Consequences of Prohibition
Politics & Advocacy

Two of the leading contenders for the Republican presidential nomination sought to win votes by talking tough on drugs this week, with Texas Gov. Rick Perry calling for unmanned drones to overfly the US-Mexico border and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney saying the war on drugs must continue.

Rick Perry wants drones to overfly the US-Mexico border to surveil the drug traffic, but they already are. (image via Wikimedia)
Meanwhile Rep. Ron Paul, one of two GOP contenders who have staked out positions critical of the drug war (the other is former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson), has seemingly vanished from the mainstream media despite coming in a very close second to Rep. Michele Bachmann in last weekend's Iowa straw poll.

Going on the offensive against President Obama as he announced his candidacy Saturday, Perry accused Obama of being "an abject failure in his constitutional duty to protect our borders in the United States." Perry waved his right hand toward Mexico as he made those remarks.

Later the same day, at a campaign event in New Hampshire, the tough-talking Texan again laid into Obama, this time calling for the use of unmanned drones to track the flow of drugs coming from Mexico. The Predator drones can stay aloft for up to 20 hours and are equipped with video and tracking technologies.

"We know that there are Predator drones being flown for practice every day because we're seeing them; we're preparing these young people to fly missions in these war zones that we have," Perry told the crowd. "But some of those, they have all the equipment, they're obviously unarmed, they've got the downward-looking radar, they've got the ability to do night work and through clouds. Why not be flying those missions and using (that) real-time information to help our law enforcement?" he asked.

That could be a valid question if one accepts the war on drugs paradigm, which Perry obviously does. The only problem with Perry's query is that the Department of Homeland Security is already deploying drones along the entirety of the US-Mexico border.

Romney, for his part, addressed substance use and the war on drugs in response to questions from the audience, including one from drug war zealot Steven Steiner, who founded Dads and Mad Moms Against Drug Dealers (DAMMAD) after his 19-year-old son died of a drug overdose.

"We've got to not only continue our war on drugs from a police standpoint, but also to market again to our young people about the perils of drugs," the front-running candidate said in response to questions in Littleton.

Romney was responding to one local businessman who complained that he and fellow rural business owners had trouble finding educated workers who can pass a drug test. He replied that people have to teach their children to get an education and stay away from drugs.

Later that evening, at a Berlin town hall, Steiner stood up and said he was frustrated with presidential candidates not talking more about drugs. Romney offered his condolences, said parents must do a better job of warning young people, mentioned his advisors on drug policy are worried about the medical marijuana movement, and offered a joke about it.

"There's a lot of marijuana on the beach," Romney said, referring to California and his home there. "It's amazing how many teenagers have medical problems that require marijuana. I'm saying that facetiously."

Drug policy is beginning to emerge as a campaign issue for the Republican contenders. Look for an in-depth Chronicle article on the candidates and their positions after Labor Day.

(This article was published by's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


saynotohypocrisy (not verified)

How much more dangerous America's drug is than cannabis. Utterly no comparison. GET REAL, you goddamn bigot.

Yeah, there's a lot of medicinal cannabis being used non-medicinally in CA. So fucking what, is it getting people killed like America's drug does? No, of course not. Why can't you focus on violent crime for a change? That's where the real heartache comes from. You got weird priorities, buster.

Wed, 08/17/2011 - 6:13pm Permalink
tmj (not verified)

In reply to by Moonrider (not verified)

Don't forget about Gary Johnson, who the media shoved him out of the race because we couldn't have two people who made complete sense. The other of course being Ron Paul.


I say Vote for real Change(not fake Obama change)

Ron Paul/Gary Johnson 2012.

Wed, 08/17/2011 - 7:44pm Permalink
Moonrider (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous1y (not verified)

I've been saying that for some time, now, ever since Gary Johnson entered the race.  Tho there was a short time where I advocated Gary Johnson for prez and Ron Paul to remain in congress where he could do a LOT of good with a prez who held similar views.  But I quickly changed my mind and now that Dr. No has said he won't seek another term in congress, has taken such a close second in the Iowa straw poll, and Gary Johnson can't even get a mention in the MSM or included in such polls, that just cements it, this is the next best thing for reformers -- a Paul/Johnson ticket.

Fri, 08/19/2011 - 3:52am Permalink
off the grid (not verified)

As many people as possible to register Republican to participate in the republican primaries and Caucuses if we want to get a real freedom fighter like Ron Paul through to the general election. Register now. Most states require you to be registered well in advance of the first Primary
Thu, 08/18/2011 - 1:25pm Permalink
Bhonze (not verified)

I would like to vote for someone other than Obama but i will not vote for any idiot that will take this kind of stand with the drug war. They act like they have blinders on or something; they seem to have the pulse of the public correct when it come to the economy but as far as how the public feels about the drug war they are way behind. Get a Clue Dudes!!! The only people these guys will attract are Hard Core conservatives.

Fri, 08/19/2011 - 2:20pm Permalink
SkyBear (not verified)

You can bet that almost nobody ever smoked their first joint and said "Wow, Man, now I realize that those repubicans have been right all along.."

The GOP will fight the expensive and stupid drug war forever

Sat, 08/20/2011 - 2:21pm Permalink
Moonrider (not verified)

In reply to by SkyBear (not verified)

So many of the liberal/democrat crowd keep blaming the GOP, but the Democrats in government have been just as complicit in keeping this abomination called "the drug war" going, have even expanded it -- Biden wrote and pushed through congress the bill which created the ONDCP, the cabinet level office of "drug czar", and the mandate that the government employees of this agency must lie whenever confronted by citizens or the media on the failures or tragedies of drug policy; or when they ask about the growing scientific research on the medicinal uses of this herb. 

Ron Paul is a different kind of candidate.  He may have a (R) behind his name but he does NOT represent the current hierarchy of the GOP.  He represents the Constitution, he represents liberty for ALL Americans (and hope for the rest of the world), and he represents sound monetary policy.  What more could you ask for?  His position on the Constitution (that the government should obey it in ALL things) means the federal war on drugs would be ended in 2013.  Is that not what you want?  Is it only a win if a Democrat does it?  If so we could be another century before it's done.

Sat, 08/20/2011 - 5:32pm Permalink
sicntired (not verified)

The republicans are at least honest about how they feel.That I prefer to the sleazy flip that Obama has done on this issue.Obama,the guy that ran on a leave cannabis alone platform only to become as rabidly anti drug as any president in Washington.Now he won't even allow it as a question at his so called town halls.What a classless hypocrite.

Sun, 08/21/2011 - 7:58am Permalink

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