Mixed local reaction to Bush’s speech

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 30, 2005

In a speech Tuesday evening at the Fort Bragg, N.C. Army base, President Bush asked Americans to be patient with the war in Iraq, which has lasted more than two years, killed roughly 1,700 Americans and cost $200 billion.

&uot;We have made progress but we have a lot more work to do,&uot; Bush said. &uot;Today Iraqi security forces are at different levels of readiness.

&uot;Some are capable of taking on the terrorists and insurgents by themselves. A larger number can plan and execute anti-terrorist operations with coalition support. The rest are forming and not yet ready to participate fully in security operations.&uot;

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As Wednesday rolled around, locals gave their thoughts on the war and America’s commander-in-chief.

&uot;I support the president and his decision,&uot; said Del. Chris Jones. &uot;Sometimes war is necessary.&uot;

So does Suffolk Republican Party secretary Eugene Sankey.

&uot;I think he gave a positive assessment,&uot; Sankey said, &uot;but it’s going to be a very difficult situation to overcome and require a lot of patience on the part of the American public. Based on poll numbers, there is a decline in support for the war in Iraq, but it requires patience and steadfastness and it’s very important that we win. If we lose that, then we will have the attention of all the terrorists throughout world focusing on United States.&uot;

Bush’s approval rating has fallen to 42 percent, his lowest since May 2004 when news of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal came to public view.

The president spent part of his speech explaining why he couldn’t set an exact time for when American troops would depart.

&uot;Setting an artificial timetable would send the wrong message to the Iraqis, who need to know that America will not leave before the job is done,&uot; he said. &uot;It would send the wrong signal to our troops, who need to know that we are serious about completing the mission they are risking their lives to achieve. And it would send the wrong message to the enemy, who would know that all they have to do is to wait us out. We will stay in Iraq as long as we are needed and not a day longer.&uot;

That part got Mayor Bobby L. Ralph’s attention.

&uot;I don’t think we can set any timetables as to when we’re going to come out,&uot; he said. &uot;That would give those who are fighting us a target date that they could look forward to and attack. I wholeheartedly agree with the plan president has, think we need to unite and support the plan.&uot;

Others didn’t sound so agreeable.

&uot;I don’t have any real problem with Bush in terms of the job he’s done so far,&uot; said Suffolk resident Ed Young, &uot;but any time we have to send people, especially young people, in a situation where they might be killed, I don’t agree with it.

&uot;That’s where I have the problem; we have young men and women getting blown up daily in Iraq, and the question is, for what? It’s hard to see that. Everyday, I expect to hear about five troops getting killed because of car bombs. I just wish we could somehow get our people out of there.&uot;

Resident Talmadge Darden, a principal at King’s Fork Middle School, had similar sentiments.

&uot;I’m not for war of any kind,&uot; said Darden.

&uot;We have to do what we have to do sometimes, but I can’t really say I’m in favor of sending our people over there.&uot;