Poll: Most say Bush has no Iraq victory plan
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Despite a series of recent speeches spelling out the administration's policies on Iraq, the majority of Americans in a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll said they do not believe President Bush has a plan that will achieve victory in Iraq.
Fifty-eight percent of those polled said Bush doesn't have a clear plan on Iraq, compared to 38 percent who said they believe Bush does have a plan for victory.
At the same time, the poll found that 63 percent of the respondents believe Iraqis have made real progress toward establishing a democratic state over the past two years. Thirty-four percent said they don't believe Iraq has made real democratic strides. (See interactive approval ratings for President Bush during his second term)
The poll, released Monday night, was conducted with 1,003 Americans who were interviewed by telephone Friday through Sunday. It has a sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.
Nearly three out of five Americans, 59 percent, said they disapproved of the way Bush is handling Iraq; 39 percent said they approve.
The approval number is up slightly from last month, when a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll found 63 percent of Americans disapproved of the administration's Iraq policy and 35 percent said they approved. In September, 32 percent said they approved of Bush's handling of Iraq.
The results come after efforts by Bush and other administration officials to promote what they bill as a "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq."
On Monday in Philadelphia, President Bush gave his third of four speeches designed to boost support for the war and the administration's handling of it.
Bush said a fledgling democracy in Iraq will take time to grow but will make the world safer from terrorists, and he acknowledged that more than 30,000 Iraqis have been killed since the U.S.-led invasion nearly three years ago.
In the city where the Declaration of Independence was signed and the country's Constitution debated, Bush said that U.S. strategy includes helping restore the Iraqi economy, building up Iraqi security forces to battle the insurgents and helping the fledgling democracy to become a stable institution.
Bush cautioned Americans not to expect Iraq's path to democracy to be smooth, and reminded the audience of the milestones Iraqis have already accomplished: The handover of sovereignty to the Iraqi leaders on June 28, 2004, two days ahead of schedule; holding elections in January 2005 and adopting a democratic constitution.
The next marker is Thursday's election, in which Iraqis will choose the members of their new government.
"Millions of Iraqis will put their lives on the line this Thursday in the name of liberty and democracy," he said. "And 160,000 of America's finest are putting their lives on the line so Iraqis can succeed."
But Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, said that Bush made a "wishy-washy statement" on his Iraq policy.
"We must tell the Iraqis, we've done our part -- we've done more than our part. Now it's up to you to get your political house in order," he said.
And Rep. John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, the hawkish Democrat who has increasingly spoken out against the administration in recent weeks, said Bush is following a flawed strategy.
"The current strategy envisions a continuation of an open-ended nation-building commitment by the U.S. military," he said. "Now, what's wrong with that is that nation building is something our military does not do well."
Murtha, an ex-Marine, has called for a U.S. troop withdrawal in the next six months -- a proposal the administration has rejected.
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