- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 29, 2003

President Bush's tough talk on Iraq in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night seems to have resonated with Americans of different backgrounds, ages, and political persuasions, according to an informal survey by United Press International.

"On Iraq, he's right," said retired Paula Kreiter of Niles, Ill. "I agree with him 100 percent."

She said: "If somebody had been smart enough to stop Hitler, maybe he wouldn't have killed all those people. He (Saddam Hussein) has to be stopped."

But the president didn't win everyone over.

"I'm bored with Bush," said Andrea Lipman, 30, of Stoneham, Mass., a married mother of one who sells insurance. "His vendetta against Saddam Hussein is going to get a lot of Americans killed."

Cal Jillson, a professor of political science at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said Bush seemed to save his passion and emotion for the latter part of his speech, when he spoke about Iraq.

"I have the sense that he probably did himself some good with the American people in the Iraq section of the speech because the nation was watching tonight, everybody at the same time, and I think he did make a good, strong emotional case — no new information — but a well-stated powerful case that Iraq is a danger. I think there will be very little discussion of the other (earlier) part of the speech."

A Washington, D.C. resident, Jack Bowles, said, "I've been very skeptical of the president's approach, but he pulled me a little farther toward supporting a stronger position in terms of more aggressively facing down Iraq." Bowles, a senior policy adviser for the Environmental Protection Agency, said: "I think he (Bush) came back to his roots as a compassionate conservative. I think the first half of his speech could have been given by a Democrat, very easily, and he spent more time on the environment than I expected."

James B. Shaffer, a media consultant in Portland, Maine, agreed that Bush's speech was well-written and well-delivered.

But Shaffer perceived a weakness in Bush's presentation on Iraq: "He failed to answer the 'why now' question that is on the minds of most of the world, and he seems to still underestimate the dependence of U.S. interests on world opinion. Why not give the diplomatic and the inspection approach more time, which might be more time to fail, perhaps. But he has moved troops and materiel into position so as to impose a military schedule, and he will lose credibility and military opportunity if he waits more than a few months. He's created a military urgency, and the whole world sees it."

Kreiter, on the other hand, was unequivocal in her support of the president on Iraq.

She said if the Iraqi leader is not stopped, "he will make more (weapons) and, God forbid, give them to al Qaida. They don't care about how many people they kill. He's (Bush) right."

Pepe Hernandez of Miami, president of the Cuban American National Foundation, also found Bush very persuasive on Iraq.

"As a matter of fact, I was not convinced before the speech, but I think, now, that if we don't act, we probably should expect attacks by terrorists and especially Saddam Hussein. I think the president is doing what people expect him to do."

Carol Freehoff, a Malden, Mass., housewife who has a son living in Israel with his family, said, "I never started out liking George Bush, but he kind of surprised me tonight, and I think he might have won over the people."

She said Bush's comments on Iraq were "the most interesting to me. I believe him. I think he did (make the case for going to war with Iraq). I think he might have set a few heads straight — I mean straight as far as going to war."

Steve Check of Miami, a laid-off airline computer programmer, said, "The most effective part (of Bush's speech) was the second part. He conjured up the vision of Hitler again. He said we have to go get Saddam first before he gets us."

Families who have loved ones in the military told WLS-TV in Chicago that they were worried. Aida Diaz, whose son Jesse Diaz is a member of the Army Air Defense and is in Germany awaiting deployment, said: "It makes me a little bit angry because our young people are out there. They're going to be in harm's way for something that could have been prevented."

Stephanie Reeves, whose husband, James, has already been called up: "My greatest concern is my children will not know their father when he returns. My children are 1 and 2. Two years (away on war duty) makes a lot of difference in their lives."


(With additional reporting by Marcella S. Kreiter in Chicago, Dave Haskell in Boston, Les Kjos in Miami and Phil Magers in Dallas.)

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