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Public Still Supports Clinton In Iraq Standoff

A new poll finds 58 percent of the public approves of Clinton's handling of the Iraq crisis

By Keating Holland/CNN iraq poll

WASHINGTON (Feb. 23) -- A new poll indicates the majority of the public supports President Bill Clinton's handling of the Iraq situation, but those numbers have dropped since last week.

Fifty-eight percent of the public approves of the way the president is handling the situation in Iraq, and 52 percent say he has adequately explained why military action may be needed against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

But the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll also shows that the number who approve of Clinton's handling of the situation has dropped seven points since last week, possibly due to growing protests over the use of military force that is not targeted at removing Hussein from power.

Three-quarters of the public thinks that Clinton must get congressional authorization before he takes any military action in Iraq. Clinton's favorable rating now stands at 64 percent, and 62 percent have a favorable opinion of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, according to the survey.

The numbers are based interviews with 1,005 adults conducted Feb. 20-22 and has a margin of sampling error of +/- 3 percentage points. All interviews were conducted before news of the agreement between U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and Hussein was announced.

Here are the numbers:

Clinton's Handling of Situation in Iraq

Approve
Disapprove

Now
58%
32%
Last Week
65%
27%
Has Clinton Adequately Explained Need For Military Action?
Yes
No

52%
42%
Clinton Must Get Congressional Authorization
Agree
Disagree

73%
23%
Favorable Ratings
Clinton
Albright

64%
62%

A boost for Clinton

The American public's natural tendency to rally around a president during an international crisis appears to have given Clinton a boost in his showdown with Independent Counsel Ken Starr as well as his confrontation with Hussein.

Clinton's favorable rating is up six points since last week, and the number of Americans who believe the allegations concerning former White House intern Monica Lewinsky have significantly dropped.

A grand jury is looking into reports that Clinton had a sexual relationship with Lewinsky and encouraged her to lie about it under oath. Clinton has denied both accusations.

A majority still believe that Clinton and Lewinsky had sex, but that figure has dropped from 67 percent last week to 59 percent today. Fewer people believe that Clinton lied under oath about the affair and that he participated in an effort to obstruct justice by getting Lewinsky to lie under oath.

Fifty-nine percent now think that Starr should stop his investigation into this matter. And Clinton's favorable rating is now at 64 percent. That is significant because his favorable rating measures how Americans feel about him personally, not how he is handling his job as president.

These changes, however, are probably due to what pollsters call the "rally effect." The rally effect is the public's traditional tendency to support the president in all matters, foreign and domestic, when an international crisis is brewing. If this is true, today's good news for Clinton on the Lewinsky case could be only a temporary upturn.

Clinton Favorable Rating
Now
Last week

64%
58%
Believe The Charges That Clinton...

Had sex with Lewinsky
Lied under oath
Obstructed justice

Now
59%
56%
40%
Last week
67%
62%
49%
Should Ken Starr Stop His Investigation?

Yes
No

Now
59%
37%
Last week
52%
44%
In Other News

Monday February 23, 1998

Lawmakers Remain Distrustful Of Saddam Hussein
Hearing Held On Testimony of Lewinsky's Mother
Senate Debates Campaign Finance Reform Again
White House Wants To See Fine Print Of Iraq Deal

Poll:
Public Still Supports Clinton In Iraq Standoff





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