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Waning Support Of Iraq War Unlikely To Affect 2006 N.C. Politics

Posted August 9, 2006

— As American troops keep dying in Iraq, the frustration of their loss is increasingly felt back home.

Political analysts believe anti-war sentiment cost veteran U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a staunch supporter of the war, the Connecticut Democratic Primary on Tuesday.

A recent CNN poll shows 60 percent of Americans now oppose the war in Iraq.

North Carolina leaders are listening.

Democratic Congressman Bob Etheridge doesn't want to "cut and run" from Iraq, but he and other North Carolina lawmakers hear the public's cry for resolution.

"They're doing a marvelous job for what we ask them to do, but we cannot be in the middle of a civil war," Etheridge said. "Just saying we get to stay the course is not a plan."

Former Sen. John Edwards goes further. After voting for the war in 2002, the potential presidential candidate is now calling for an immediate withdrawal.

President George W. Bush consistently uses North Carolina's strong military presence as a venue to defend the war.

At Fort Bragg on July 4, the president proclaimed, "I'm not going to allow the sacrifices of 2,527 troops who've died in Iraq be in vain by pulling out before the job is done."

Although some Republicans, such as Robin Hayes, still stand by the president, others, including congressmen Howard Coble and Walter Jones, continue to question their leader.

According to The Associated Press, Coble told constituents this week, "Candor is not a sign of weakness. People in my district who stood in line to support President Bush aren't happy about Iraq."

North Carolina State University Political Science Professor Steven Greene believes the Lieberman loss signals something larger in America's feelings about the president and the war, even in military-friendly North Carolina.

"Republicans are so much more willing to come out against the president, because he is, honestly, so unpopular," Greene told WRAL. "A lot of people think pro-military is not sending them over there to die without a clear purpose or clear strategy."

Still, Greene said he doubts the anti-war vote will have an immediate effect on North Carolina politics, in part, because the state has no U.S Senate races this year. Congressional races are generally driven more by local issues.

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