Folks, these are your GOP candidates on drugs.
Yes, we know that jobs and the economy are the marquee issues for this campaign. Even major topics like war and education are getting short shrift among the wannabe nominees.
But those reefer-mad kids over at Students for Sensible Drug Policy are holding the candidates’ feet to the, ahem, fire on their favorite subject.
In a series of videos posted to YouTube, student volunteers have caught the candidates—sometimes awkwardly—along the campaign trail, explaining their stances. Squirm alert.
Watch Romney try to dodge a question, and claim not to know what industrialized hemp is. Behold former Sen. Rick Santorum explaining why most of the time, he’s for states rights and small government, but when it comes to drugs, he’s with the feds.
“Federal government does have a role in making sure states don’t go out and legalize drugs,”Santorum tells a young woman attending a speech who identifies herself as a marijuana user.
Pass the chips, dude. This is some entertaining TV.
In another video, former House speaker Newt Gingrich indicated, though, that he’s not in favor of harsh jail time for drug users. “You shouldn’t be arrested,” Gingrich says when informed by a woman that she’s a recreational drug user who asked if she should be arrested.
You can practically see the gears in his head spinning as he calculates how much of a jerk he’d seem if he went hard-line on such a nice young lady—on camera. And then he turns paternal. “You also shouldn’t do it,” he admonishes the youthful pot enthusiast.
But let’s put policy positions and questions of penal codes and states’ rights aside and get the really juicy stuff. Have any of the candidates sampled the goods themselves?
Unclear for the other major candidates, but Santorum and Gingrich have both ‘fessed up to having used. Santorum smoked pot in college, something he says he later came to regret. Gingrich says his toking took place in graduate school.
Both painted their dabbles in illegal drugs as a product of youthful indiscretion--and in Gingrich’s case, nothing more than a sign of the times--much like the thick glasses he sported at the time. Gingrich told the AP in1994 that his pot use was “a sign we were alive and in graduate school in that era.”