Bush Losing Support Among Supporters

At the Kettle Diner in Jacksonville, N.C., it's faith, family and the Corps. Jacksonville is home to Camp Lejuene, the largest Marine Corps base on the East Coast.

But, as CBS News national correspondent Byron Pitts found, even in Jacksonville, where support for the warriors remains strong, support for the president and his handling of the war may be waning.

"There's a lot of people who think we've been there too long," said Cpl. John Miller. "But personally I think we should stay there until they have an established government."

Asked is she still supports the war in Iraq, restaurant manager Lilly Cantrell answers with an emphatic "yes" — but she pauses first.

Would she have hesitated that long to answer the question three or four years ago?

"No," she says.

What's changed in those three or four years? Things just get worse and worse, she says.

A recent CBS News/New York Times poll found that 65 percent of Americans disapprove of the way the Bush administration is handling the war.

Even some lifelong conservatives aren't hearing the president's message anymore.

"I've turned him off," said retired Marine Col. Jim Van Riper. "I've tuned him out."

Van Riper is a Christian, card-carrying member of the National Rifle Association who voted for President Bush twice. But as more Marines have died, his confidence in the Bush administration has died as well.

Watch an extended interview with Col. Van Riper
"If they had done it their way and it succeeded, I couldn't be talking to you like this," he says. "They did it their way, they failed and they won't admit it. That's arrogance, and I don't mind arrogance, except when there's dead bodies as a result."

So this November, for the first time, Van Riper will vote for Democrats — across the board.

"I've voted Republican nearly all my life. I'm very conservative," he says. "My hope is that Democrats win the House."

Van Riper's twin brother is a retired Marine general whose love for the Corps remains strong, but the war in Iraq is personal.

"I had a son there. I have a nephew there now," Col. Van Riper says. "It's personal."

Asked what he would say to President Bush if he got the chance, Van Riper replies, "Sir, I'm disappointed."

In Jacksonville, a place where war is so very personal and faith so very deep — the president is preaching to a choir with some members who no longer seem quite so willing to believe.
  • James Klatell

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