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Bush: Falling Public Support for Iraq War Will Not Cost Republicans Control of Congress


U.S. President George Bush says falling public support for the war in Iraq will not cost Republicans control of Congress. Mr. Bush believes his political party will win next month's elections on issues of the economy and national security.

President Bush says he understands that Americans are anxious about Iraq. He told reporters at a Rose Garden news conference that the continuing violence there is tough on the American psyche.

"I fully understand the American people are seeing unspeakable violence on their TV screens," he said. "These are tough times in Iraq. The enemy is doing everything within its power to destroy the government and to drive us out of the Middle East."

Public-opinion polls show falling support for the war. A survey by the newspaper USA Today says two-thirds of Americans disapprove of the way President Bush is handling that conflict.

That has raised concerns among those in the president's political party that opposition to the war could cost them control of the Senate or House of Representatives in next month's elections.

The USA Today poll says 52 percent of voters believe opposition Democrats would do a better job handling Iraq. The war is likely to be on voters' minds as they go to the polls, with 86 percent saying Iraq is an extremely or very important part of deciding how they vote for Congress.

President Bush says he is confident that those voters will return Republican majorities to both the House and the Senate because the economy is strong and Americans know what is at stake in Iraq.

"I firmly believe that the American people understand that this is different from other wars because in this war if we were to leave early before the job is done, the enemy will follow us here," he said. "And so I believe we will maintain control because we are on the right side of the economic issue and the security issue."

President Bush says Americans want to know if he has a plan to win in Iraq. He says that plan includes constantly changing military tactics and continuing support for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who the president says is bringing Shi'ite and Sunni leaders together to stop sectarian violence.

President Bush says that plan for success stands in sharp contrast to what he calls, "the cut-and-run approach of many Democrats who feel the war in Iraq is not worth it."

Democratic leaders say the president unfairly portrays them as wanting to abandon Iraq. Party chairman Howard Dean says Democrats want the Iraqi people to take more responsibility for their own security. He says Democrats want the president to focus more on protecting America by boosting border security and inspections of cargo at U.S. ports.

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