Bush Decries Critics Who Call Drug War Funds Not Enough

From United Press International

President Bush today decried critics of his new national strategy against drugs who "incredibly say" that the $7.9 billion is not enough to combat the scourge.

"It's that kind of thinking that's lost too many battles already," Bush told a gathering of about 7,000 friendly fellow American Legionnaires.

It was the second straight day that the President has answered critics, mainly from the ranks of the Democrats, who have questioned the funding and the thrust of the program Bush outlined to the nation on Tuesday.

In a speech that stressed freedom from drugs and freedom from war, Bush said:

"Now over the last few days there's been a lot of talk about our strategy by some, who incredibly say it's not enough--this from people who oppose the death penalty. It's that kind of talking that's lost too many battles already, so let's not let these critics lose the war."

'Going to Win This Battle'

"America must never surrender to the victory of drugs and crime," he said. "The future of our children depends on it."

"We are in this together so let us fight on every front," he added. "We're going to win this battle, kid by kid, neighborhood by neighborhood."

Bush told the gathering that "by taking the hoods off the streets, we can and will take back the streets."

Bush began his remarks with a reference to the gaffe he made in an appearance before the legion last Sept. 7.

A year ago, in a speech to a stunned American Legion in Louisville, Ky., Bush proclaimed Sept. 7 as the anniversary of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. Moments later, Bush corrected himself and said Pearl Harbor Day, of course, is Dec. 7.

Upon finishing his speech today, Bush said, "Thank you all, very, very much. Remember Pearl Harbor."

Cuts 'Totally Unacceptable'

Touching on defense matters, Bush told the war veterans that cuts in the Administration's strategic weapons modernization plans, particularly by the House, are "totally unacceptable to the commander in chief of the armed forces."

He said the House version "continues unneeded programs costing $20 billion, while holding hostage crucial modernization" of strategic programs, including submarines, long-range strategic ballistic missiles and the B-2 Stealth bomber.

"Congress should support these programs and not try to substitute its own programs," he said.

After appearing before the legion, Bush went to nearby Ft. McHenry to celebrate the 175th anniversary of Francis Scott Key's writing of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

The Battle of Baltimore occurred at the fort in September, 1814. Historians consider the battle a turning point in the War of 1812, marking the end of the British threat to the United States.

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