Millions of Americans want action taken against the overwhelming power of drug addiction that has claimed many of their loved ones, so it comes as no surprise that presidential candidates lagging in the polls have brought up their past experiences with drug addiction to try and gain more support.
While campaigning in New Hampshire, Jeb Bush discussed his daughter Noelle’s past experience with drug abuse. Bush mentioned his daughter’s arrest in 2002 for writing a false prescription and how she was sentenced to 10 days in jail for contempt after she was found with crack while in rehab. Bush said that Noelle had struggled with addiction through her teenage years, but has since overcome her demons.
Bush made a campaign stop on Nov. 4 at a pharmacy in Hollis, N.H. and talked to pharmacy owner Vahrij Manoukian, who lost a child to a drug overdose.
Manoukian said that laws should treat drug dealers the same as child molesters. Bush agreed with the pharmacy owner, saying that people who prey on the vulnerable should be shamed and ostracized.
Bush’s compassionate talk about drug addiction comes in the wake of his decreasing popularity in the polls. In April, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll revealed that about 25 percent of Republican primary voters from all across the nation would support Bush for president.
By the end of September, support had collapsed to a meager 7 percent of national Republican voters.
Carly Fiorina, another GOP hopeful, lost her step-daughter Lori Ann to drug addiction in 2009. Fiorina has talked about her loss in interviews and during GOP debates.
In July, Fiorina attended a house party in Nashua, N.H. where she spoke about how drug addiction has affected her as a parent and presidential candidate.
A New York Times/CBS News poll from Sept. 4 had Fiorina with only 4 percent of the GOP vote. Her performance in the Sept. 17 GOP debate in which she again talked about the death of her stepdaughter when discussing the legalization of marijuana caused her popularity to soar. A CNN poll released only two days after the aforementioned debate revealed that Fiorina had jumped to second place with 15 percent of the vote.
However, support for Fiorina has been on the steady decline since a Fox News survey released on Nov. 4 revealed that Fiorina only had 3 percent of voter support.
Another presidential candidate, N.J. Governor Chris Christie, blames drug addiction for his close friend’s death. Christie’s law school friend, whose name the New Jersey governor refused to share with the public, was doing well until he suffered a back injury. After the back injury, Christie’s friend was prescribed painkillers that ultimately led to his addiction and later death. The presidential hopeful has told this story in the past, but specifically brought it up again during the last few weeks, as his chances for the GOP nomination continue to shrink.
It is commendable when political figures discuss their past tribulations, but not when trying to get a seat in the Oval Office. Bringing up tragedies during a campaign is a cheap way to tug at the audience’s heartstrings, whether you are doing it out of sincerity or not. When using personal tragedy to gain support, you are only earning the people’s vote through through emotional manipulation equivalent to the ASPCA commercials with Sarah Mclachlan’s “Arms Of An Angel” playing in the background.
Discussing their friends’ and loved ones’ issues with drug addiction has actually done nothing for Bush, Fiorina or Christie, as they are now floundering in the polls and almost guaranteed to lose in the presidential race. This should be a reminder for any and all politicians that the way to win an election is through an intelligent argument, not a manipulative one.