Ads Rap Cranston Voting Record on Drugs, Terrorism
In two television commercials now being aired statewide, Republican U.S. Senate nominee Ed Zschau charges that Democratic Sen. Alan Cranston “has voted against or missed virtually every tough law” on terrorism and drugs in his 18 years in the Senate.
That charge, the strongest Zschau has made against Cranston in the campaign, appears at the end of the TV ad on terrorism and at both the beginning and end of the ad on drugs.
The only problem with the charge is that the record shows Cranston never missed votes on terrorism and drug enforcement legislation when his vote would have made a difference and that in fact, he has often taken tough stands on both issues over the years.
“The missed votes they are talking about would not have made a difference in the outcome,” said Cranston campaign manager Darry Sragow. “And any study of Alan’s record will show that he has supported numerous bills to get tough on terrorists and drug pushers.”
View of Cranston Ads
Earlier this month, the Cranston campaign’s own advertising rhetoric drew criticism. A Cranston television ad misleadingly implied that Zschau agrees with such defenders of the South African government as Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) and the Rev. Jerry Falwell. In fact, Zschau is a strong critic of that government’s apartheid policy and supports sanctions against that regime.
The Zschau terrorism ad now airing is not misleading on one key point: Cranston has consistently voted against capital punishment for terrorists.
The senator has a lifelong, philosophical aversion to capital punishment, but his aide on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Monday that in the case of terrorists, there was an additional reason Cranston opposed the use of the death penalty.
“If you are talking about what is effective in dealing with terrorists,” said aide Gerald Warburg, “you don’t want to make martyrs of these people.”
A look at Cranston’s record on anti-terrorism legislation shows that, among other major measures, he:
- Voted for a 1986 law that increases penalties for terrorist acts and calls for trial in the United States for terrorists guilty of acts against Americans abroad.
- Wrote a provision in the 1985 Air Traveler Act that calls for increased security in foreign airports.
- Supported a 1981 amendment that urged President Reagan to ban oil shipments from Libya and urged U. S. allies to support anti-terrorists measures against Libya.
- Voted for a 1972 bill urging the President to end air service to nations that harbor terrorists.
Supported Bombing of Libya
Cranston also supported President Reagan’s bombing of Libya earlier this year, although he was by no means among the first to do so and expressed reservations about the effectiveness of the bombing.
Asked Monday which Cranston votes the Zschau campaign was citing for its ad on terrorism, Zschau research director Troy Eid listed a number of votes on the death penalty.
He also cited a Cranston vote in 1978 amendment that would have made it easier for “Communists, anarchists and people advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government” to apply for temporary visas to the United States, and a vote against increasing penalties against those who expose the identifies of U.S. secret agents.
As for Zschau’s charge that Cranston “has voted against or missed virtually every tough law on drugs,” a look at Cranston’s record shows that in 1983 alone, Cranston introduced, co-sponsored or voted for the following bills that contained drug enforcement provisions:
The National Narcotics Act; the Violent Juvenile Offender Act; the Anti-Arson Act and the Public Safety Officers Assistant Act.
He did miss a vote on the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, which passed the Senate by a vote of 91 to 1.
Other votes Cranston missed included: A 1983 amendment to restrict the availability of U.S. funds for countries that do not take adequate measures to control drugs. It passed 91 to 0; and drug enforcement funds for fiscal years 1975-79. It passed 89 to 0.
Zschau aide Eid also noted that Cranston voted against a bill in 1978 that would have provided funds to Colombia to break up narcotics factories. Cranston contends that he cast that vote because a study by the Foreign Relations Committee raised questions about whether the Colombian authorities could use the funds effectively.