The latest polls show that the American people strongly support the Democrats over George W. Bush on Iraq. Which begs the question: will the Democrats stand firm and make Dick Cheney eat his words?
From the Washington Post:
Congress and the White House will move this week toward a final showdown over a contested war funding bill with most Americans trusting Democrats over President Bush to set Iraq policy but with sentiment deeply divided over Congress's push to set a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces.
Democratic leaders will formally convene House and Senate negotiators tomorrow to hammer out a final version of the war funding bill, hoping to have the compromise on Bush's desk by the end of next week. The president and Democratic leaders again exchanged verbal fire today.
Bush used a backdrop of military families to declare "we should not legislate defeat in this vital war." Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), flanked by retired Army generals, fired back, "The president and the vice president continue to desperately cling to their failed escalation strategy and attack those who disagree with them."
Democrats appear to be standing on firm political ground, as they work toward a final bill this week. A Washington Post-ABC News poll of 1,141 adults, conducted April 12-15, found that 58 percent trusted the Democrats in Congress to do a better job handling the situation in Iraq, compared to 33 percent who trusted Bush.
The president has taken advantage of the congressional spring recess to pound Democrats over their legislation, which would impose benchmarks for the Iraqi government to meet, set strict rules for resting, equipping and training combat troops, and set a 2008 date for the final withdrawal of U.S. troops. Despite those efforts, Bush has actually lost a little ground to Democrats, who were trusted by 54 percent to set Iraq policy in February.
And pessimism about the war continues to grow. For the first time, a narrow majority of Americans, 51 percent, say the United States will lose the war in Iraq, compared to 35 percent who said the United States will win. Bush continued today to say victory in Iraq is pivotal to the larger war on terrorism, but Americans are increasingly siding with the Democratic view that the issues are separate. Some 57 percent now say the United States can succeed in the war on terrorism without winning the war in Iraq, a 10-percentage point increase since January, when Americans were almost evenly divided on the question.
The percentage of Americans who favor withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq, even if that means civil order is not restored, held steady from February at 56 percent.
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