Iraq war sees Bush approval rating plummet
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Iraq war sees Bush approval rating plummet

Austrialian Broadcasting Company | August 25, 2005
By Leigh Sales

TONY EASTLEY: US President George W. Bush is facing his lowest approval ratings ever, as a growing number of Americans question whether the war in Iraq is worth the cost.

More than 1,800 American servicemen and women have now lost their lives in Iraq, in a mission that shows no sign of ending any time soon.

President Bush's approval rating is now around 40 per cent, and he’s trying to convince Americans that he understands the sacrifices military families are making.

North America Correspondent Leigh Sales reports.

(sound of anti-war protesters chanting "Tell the truth")

LEIGH SALES: The anti-war movement in the United States has been more visible in recent weeks, reinvigorated by Cindy Sheehan, a mother who lost her son in Iraq.

(sound of anti-war protesters chanting "Tell the truth")

This protest was in California and after a break, Mrs Sheehan is on her way back to another anti-war rally, outside the President's Texan ranch. At the same time she and her supporters are criticising the President for what they claim is his lack of compassion. George W. Bush has been emphasising that not all military families oppose the war.

GEORGE W. BUSH: There are few things in life more difficult than seeing a loved one go off to war, and here in Idaho a mum named Tammy Pruett knows that feeling six times over. Tammy has four sons serving in Iraq right now with the Idaho National Guard – Eric, Evan, Greg and Jeff. Last year her husband Leon and another son Aaron returned from Iraq where they helped train Iraqi fire-fighters in Mosul.

Tammy says this, and I want you to hear this:

"I know that if something happens to one of the boys, they would leave this world doing what they believe, what they think is right for our country, and I guess you couldn't ask for a better way of life than giving it for something that you believe in."

LEIGH SALES: But many Americans don't share Tammy Pruett's faith in the Iraq mission. Fifty per cent of people believe the US is losing ground in Iraq, according to the latest Newsweek poll, and 64 per cent don't believe the war in Iraq is protecting them from terrorism.

The lack of support for Iraq is translating into a serious slump in the President's approval rating. Two polls this week show his support at between 36 and 40 per cent, the lowest of his time in office. The President's response is to work even harder to convince America he made the right decision to launch war in Iraq. This is his second speech justifying Iraq policy this week.

GEORGE BUSH: Specialist Matt Salisbury is with us today.

(sound of applause)

He helped provide security for the elections. He describes seeing an Iraqi family helping and elderly man to the polls vote that day. "The pride radiating from his face was unmistakeable," Matt said. "With one act he recovered his dignity, which had been stolen by a tyrant. How can I possibly describe the return of hope and dignity that I saw in these people's eyes? It is worth the sacrifice of leaving families, jobs and a safe life. I am proud to be a citizen soldier in the 116th Brigade Combat Team serving in Iraq, and I'm proud to stand on my watch."

LEIGH SALES: By using people like Specialist Salisbury and Tammy Pruett to argue his case, the President is hoping to personalize the case for the war, in the same way the anti-war protestors have humanised their argument by using the bereaved mother, Cindy Sheehan.

Yet, whatever way President Bush chooses to deliver his message, the core of it is unchanged.

GEORGE W. BUSH: So long as I'm the president, we will stay, we will fight and we will win the war on terror.

(sound of crowd applauding and cheering)

TONY EASTLEY: US President George W. Bush, and that report from our North America Correspondent.

As he was making that speech, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was announcing that two battalions from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division will go to Iraq for 120 days to beef up security for the elections in Iraq.



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