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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 September, 2004, 11:27 GMT 12:27 UK
Iraq: The war at home
By Richard Allen Greene
BBC News Online in Miami, Florida

George W Bush has claimed he is not interested in the verdict of history, but history will certainly record at least one fact about him: his toppling of Saddam Hussein.

American soldiers in Najaf
The US commitment in Iraq is one of the most divisive election issues
The great question now is whether the same war that deposed the Iraqi leader will also ultimately unseat President Bush.

Senator John Kerry is gambling that American unease with the war is strong enough to propel him to the White House.

He has recently focused his rhetoric on Iraq - and the president's supporters have responded by questioning whether the Democratic challenger is tough enough to lead the country in time of war.

Both views have their supporters.

Roger Harrigan, a small business owner from Wisconsin, is so upset by the war that he is planning to vote Democrat for the first time in 37 years.

BBC News Online asked people across America how the issue of Iraq would affect their vote

"I will totally vote for John Kerry because I think the war in Iraq was horrible. It's not necessarily that I am really enamoured of Kerry but I just won't vote for Bush, period," he says.

He says Mr Bush took the country to war under false pretences - that the president "lied" about weapons of mass destruction rather than being mistaken.

He also dislikes the way Mr Bush went about preparing for war.

"You don't go into something like that and not have a way to get out. You don't go in alone without the United Nations in this day and age. You can't - it's a global world."

But while people like Mr Harrigan bemoan the lack of UN involvement, others say Mr Bush is only doing what the UN should have done itself.

JW Metcalf of Illinois is a former military man who backs the war and the president.

US DEATHS IN IRAQ (TO 27 SEPTEMBER)
Killed in action, combat phase*: 109
Other deaths, combat phase: 29
Killed in action, post-combat phase: 687
Other deaths, post-combat phase: 221
Civilian DoD deaths: 3
Total: 1,049
*19/03/03-30/04/03
Source: US Department of Defense (DoD)
"Over the past 11-12 years, the UN - not the United States - had so many resolutions for Iraq to follow. They never followed them. It seemed like the UN did not have the fortitude to enforce them and finally we, Great Britain and a few others did," he says.

He will be voting for President Bush in November, not least because of the war.

"The strong leadership that the president had shown is going to cause me to support him," he says.

"I agree with what he's done and I think history will show that it's the right thing to do. No one likes it that we have lost over 1,000 guys, but that's the way war is."

Personal ties

Martha Morris has a personal connection to the war in Iraq - her son Drew is serving in the marines there. He enlisted after the 11 September, 2001 attacks.

Lee Sanford
The Iraqis don't want us there - they're thankful, but now they want us gone
Lee Sanford
She says the war in Iraq has made America safer because it is a chance for United States to show the world its strength.

She thinks the "madmen" responsible for 9/11 have got the message.

"I believe the United States marines are making that clear to them right now. I think they know we've come for them."

But Lee Sanford of Buddy More Trucks is not so sure.

He drove a lorry in Iraq for six months before returning to the US because it was too dangerous.

He says the Iraqis may have been grateful to have Saddam Hussein removed, but they do not support the continued US presence in Iraq.

"They don't want us there. They're thankful, but now they want us gone."

But he said that given what he had seen there - military equipment he said he was not at liberty to discuss - he doubted the US would be pulling out any time soon.

"We're not going to walk away. We're going to be there for the long haul."

He backed Mrs Morris's assertion that US troops in Iraq were installing useful infrastructure like water filtration plants and generators - but said much of it was being destroyed soon after.

"They get it set up and somebody sabotages it three, four, five months later."

Despite what he has seen, he says he is planning to vote for President Bush.

"I'm still supporting him because of what he has done for nationwide security. I like him. I always liked him."

Christian views

Pastor Ted Haggard is president of the National Association of Evangelicals. He says he backed the Iraq war because of his Christian faith.

"Those who have strength should use their strength to help the weak. We don't believe you should dominate another nation to extract things from them," he says of evangelical Christians.

Since we are already in it [Iraq] we might as well finish it out - if it's what we had to do at the time, then that's what we had to do
Vanessa Schuchardt
"But we do believe it is the role of the strong to dominate other people if they are being abused like in Saddam Hussein's case."

But peace activist Jean Ferguson says she opposes the war because she is a Christian.

She says she sees Jesus as a peace activist - and plans to vote for Mr Kerry, though she originally supported anti-war Democrat Dennis Kucinich.

"I think that Bush has done great damage and I feel that Kerry at least is listening to some of the progressives, some of the peace activists."

University student Vanessa Schuchardt has mixed feelings about the Iraq war.

"Since we are already in it we might as well finish it out," she says. "If it's what we had to do at the time, then that's what we had to do."

She says she is leaning towards voting for Mr Kerry "because I think it's time for something different".

US ELECTION ROAD TRIP
Kevin Anderson and Richard Greene
Kevin Anderson and Richard Greene travelled across the US to get to the heart of the issues in this year's election. They sent back regular in-depth reports telling us what they found

She spoke to BBC News Online at the Alamo, the site where the Mexican army besieged and killed Texans fighting for independence from Mexico in 1836.

Texas Democratic party chief of staff Mike Lavigne contrasted the Alamo with the Iraq war.

"The great thing about the Alamo was they knew the odds. They knew they were going to die."

He does not think the president has been as honest with Americans today as the defenders of the Alamo were.

"Nobody likes to send their kid off to war, but Americans - and especially Texans - understand you need to fight and die. But they don't like to be lied to."

He says that President Bush has lost support in his home state over the Iraq war.

"This is a huge army state. We understand the need for solidarity and unity. You won't hear a lot of anti-Bush talk in Texas. But our vote is private."




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