WACO, TEXAS -- John McCain went back to the future last night suggesting that an old anti-drug program should be revived to stem demand for illegal drugs.
"We're creating a demand here in the United States. We all know that," McCain said at a town hall meeting in Waco.
"Now maybe we ought to go back to - remember when Nancy Reagan used to have a program called 'Just Say No' and it had some effect?"
"But we also in my view need to do a lot of things, including first time drug offenders, not dealers, ought to be given a chance to rehab. In Arizona we have a program, and if you're a first time drug offender and you go through a rehab program, that's very long and very intensive and has drug testing along with it that we ought to give people that opportunity, but we've got to educate our kids as to the dangers and the evils of the use of drugs, and we probably have to use, do a better job of it," McCain added.
His discussion of illegal drugs was sparked by this weekend's rising tensions in South America.
"There's increased tensions between Venezuela, Ecuador and Colombia as President [Hugo] Chavez has now sent troops to the border or Colombia. We know that Ecuador is taking similar moves," said McCain earlier in the day at a Phoenix press conference.
"I want to reiterate our partnership and friendship with President [Alvaro] Uribe and the government of Colombia. ...They are a vital ally" in efforts to stem the flow of illegal drugs to the U.S, he continued.
In Waco, he added, "I hope that tensions will be relaxed, President Chavez will remove those troops from the borders - as well as the Ecuadorians - and relations continue to improve between the two."
But McCain warned that there was more to the puzzle of curtailing the drug trade citing FARC, a guerilla group, as a large part of the problem.
"Have no doubt that FARC Is one of the premier terrorist organizations in the world who have engaged in widespread kidnapping murder and drug trade for many, many years. I have made trips to Colombia and met family members and even individuals who were kidnapped by FARC and had to pay enormous fines and there were many who were actually killed while in their captivity. They are a terrorist organization and one that I believe we must assist the Colombian government in repressing," he said.