Vice President George Bush criticized Hollywood films that glamorize drugs and challenged the Democrats Saturday to join his call for the death penalty for drug kingpins.

Bush, denying that investigations of Attorney General Edwin Meese are hurting his campaign, also warned that if the Democrats "want to go down the low road, we'll meet them."At a rally in the sunny atrium of a Cleveland State University building, Bush called for all Americans to "stand up against drug use, even casual use, (and) express our outrage when we see some in the entertainment industry condoning, almost advocating cocaine as some kind of a modern hip lifestyle."

In an interview with Cleveland reporters, Bush said he was shocked at the approving way cocaine was presented in a video he and his wife, Barbara, rented. He did not name the film.

He told the crowd of 300, "There's much more to do in this fight."

"We've appointed tougher judges. We are getting more conviction and longer sentences. But where are the Democrats on mandatory sentencing, on tougher penalties for those who poison our kids with drugs? I favor the death penalty for drug kingpins, those involved in drug-related killings," he said.

"If Michael Dukakis and Jesse Jackson are serious about this, let's see where they stand on throwing the book at those who are poisoning the lives of the young people."

Both Dukakis and Jackson oppose capital punishment for any crime.

Bush said, "What about those . . . who get minors to do their dirty work, their drug-dealing for them? Throw the book at them. Put 'em where the sun don't shine."

Dr. Otis Bowen, the secretary of health and human services, voiced pessimism this week about the war on drugs and told Reagan at a White House meeting that the Democrats "are poised to steal from our party what has been a traditionally Republican issue: law enforcement."

Aboard Air Force Two, Robert Teeter, Bush's polling expert and strategist, said drugs have become an increasingly important issue in voters' minds in the past six months.

Voters "want answers, they want results. They . . . don't want to blame somebody, they want a solution," said Teeter.

Bush also visited a nursing home in Columbus, St. Raphael's Home for the Aged, on what was once the estate of his industrialist grandfather, the late Samuel Bush.