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The American public overwhelmingly supports the U.S. military actions in Iraq, accepts President Clinton's explanation that the attack needed to take place now, and would, at least in principle, even continue the attack until Saddam Hussein is removed from power.

Usually, the first reaction to any military action is public rallying in support. A large majority of Americans has done just that, even on the brink of a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on the impeachment of President Clinton. A total of 79 percent say they favor the U.S. air strikes against Iraq, while 16 percent oppose them.

IT'S WORTH THE COST


U.S. Air Strikes Against Iraq
FAVOR
79%

OPPOSE
16%


By 62 percent to 25 percent, the public thinks this military action is worth the potential loss of American life and other costs. And these air strikes are against a Iraqi regime which most Americans would like to take action to end.

TIMING OF THE ATTACKS


Continue Strikes Until Saddam Hussein . . .
IS REMOVED FROM POWER
63%

COOPERATES WITH WEAPONS INSPECTIONS
27%

By more than two to one, Americans say the U.S. should continue air strikes until Saddam Hussein is removed from power - not just until he cooperates witUnited Nations weapons inspectors.

TIMING OF THE ATTACKS


Hussein's Timing Have Anything To Do With Impeachment?
YES
45%

NO
49%

As for the impact of the impeachment debate on the current conflict, more think that Saddam Hussein's actions were affected by it than think the president's were. People are evenly divided on whether Iraq's non-compliance had anything to do with the president's impeachment troubles. But by more than two to one, the public thinks Mr. Clinton's timing had more to do with the need to respond immediately to Iraq's non-compliance and not the impending impeachment vote.

Most Americans accept the President=s explanations about the air strikes. 75% say he has explained the situation well enough so that they understand why the U.S. launched air strikes against Iraq.

THE IMPEACHMENT DEBATE

By 61% to 35%, Americans are content to postpone the impeachment debate and vote because of the situation in Iraq.

SHOULD HOUSE POSTPONE IMPEACHMENT DEBATE?
YES 61%
NO 35

Those who want President Clinton impeached are evenly divided on whether the debate should be delayed during this military situation. Those who oppose impeachment overwhelmingly favor postponement of debate.

However, opinions about impeachment don=t matter when it comes to support for the U.S. air strikes. Large majorities of both impeachment supporters and opponents favor air strikes, think the President has explained his reasons for ordering them sufficiently, and favor continuation of the strikes until Saddam Hussein is removed from power. (In fact, there are few partisan differences on any of these questions, with Democrats and Republicans about equally supportive.)

But views on impeachment are critical in assessing the timing of decisions by both sides in the crisis. By 59% to 35%, impeachment supporters think the President=s impeachment troubles had something to do with Iraq=s non-compliance. By a similar margin, impeachment opponents disagree. And impeachment supporters are evenly divided on whether the President=s timing was mostly influenced by today=s previously scheduled debate on impeachment. By four to one, impeachment opponents reject what has become known as the AWag the Dog@ scenaro.

IMPEACHMENT
HUSSEIN=S TIMING... FOR AGAINST
HAD SOMETHING TO DO WITH IMPEACHMENT 59% 38%
DID NOT 35 58

CLINTON=S TIMING HAS MORE TO DO WITH...
NEED TO RESPOND IMMEDIATELY 40% 72%
SCHEDULED IMPEACHMENT VOTE 43 18

Despite the air strikes on Iraq, little has changed overall in one night when it comes to public opinion about how the President is doing his overall job and whether or not he should continue in office. 67% approve of the way Bill Clinton is handling his job overall, and 63% say they want their Representative in Congress to vote AGAINST impeachment. Those percentages are essentially unchanged since earlier in the week. In fact, they have changed little all year long.


This poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 413 adults interviewed by telephone December 16, 1998. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus five percentage points for results based on the entire sample.
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