WASHINGTON -- Seventy percent of Americans oppose sending more troops to Iraq, according to a new poll that provides a 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 yesterday that it's one thing on which all Americans -- including administration officials -- are united.
Yet the Associated Press-Ipsos poll indicated widespread disagreement with the Bush administration over 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 opposed sending more troops to Iraq, a like number didn't think such an increase would help stabilize the situation there, the poll suggested. When asked to name the most important problem facing the United States, 38 percent of those polled pointed to the 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 US forces in Iraq.
The public's concern over Iraq was a prominent topic on Capitol Hill yesterday as legislators reacted to the president's plan to increase troop levels by 21,500.
Joseph Biden, a Delaware Democrat and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, harked back to the Vietnam War as he warned Rice that any solution to the Iraq problem must have public support.
Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, 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 Senator John McCain, Republican 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."