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70% of U.S. against sending in more troops, poll finds

By Nancy Benac
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON — Seventy percent of Americans oppose sending more troops to Iraq, according to a new poll that provides a devastatingly blunt response to President Bush's plan to bolster military forces there.

All sides in the Iraq debate are keenly aware of mounting public dissatisfaction with the situation: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday it's one thing on which all Americans — including administration officials — are united.

Yet the Associated Press-Ipsos poll found widespread disagreement with the Bush administration on its proposed solution, and growing skepticism that the United States made the right decision in going to war in the first place.

Just as 70 percent of Americans oppose sending more troops to Iraq, a like number don't think such an increase would help stabilize the situation there, the poll suggested. When asked to name the most important problem facing the U.S., 38 percent of those polled volunteered war, up significantly from 24 percent three months ago.

The AP-Ipsos telephone survey of 1,002 adults was conducted Monday through Wednesday night, when the president made his speech calling for an increase in troops. News had already surfaced before the polling period that Bush planned to boost U.S. forces in Iraq.

The public's concern over Iraq was a prominent topic on Capitol Hill on Thursday as legislators reacted to the president's plan to increase troop levels by 21,500.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph Biden, D-Del., harked back to the Vietnam War as he warned Rice that any solution to the Iraq problem must have public support. "They've got to sign on," he told her.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., told Rice: "You are not listening to the American people. ... And you wonder why there is a dark cloud of skepticism and pessimism over this nation."

But Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona said it would be an oversimplification to think that people just want the United States out of Iraq.

"They're understandably frustrated, they're understandably saddened," he said. "But if you can show the American people that there is a way forward to success, and also describe to them the consequences of failure, I believe this policy can be supported."

Approval rating

Iraq is a drag on Bush's overall job approval rating, too. That rating is at 32 percent in the latest survey, a new low in AP-Ipsos polling.

Just 35 percent of Americans think it was right for the United States to go to war, another record low in AP polling and a reversal from two years ago when two-thirds of Americans thought it was the correct move. Sixty percent, meanwhile, think it is unlikely that a stable, democratic Iraqi government will be established.

Democrats are far more inclined to oppose an increase of troops, with 87 percent against the idea, compared with 42 percent of Republicans.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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