Anti-War Americans
Deluge Congress With Mail
By Stephen Dinan
The Washington Times

House and Senate members say their constituent mail is running overwhelmingly against a unilateral attack on Iraq, although several Republicans say that has started to change.
"It's overwhelming numbers, something like 300 to 29," said Sen. Lincoln Chafee, Rhode Island Republican.
Others reported even more lopsided responses opposed to war, and said phone calls seemed to be genuine outpourings from constituents, not a concerted drive by war opponents to flood offices.
"This is not orchestrated. People overwhelmingly want it done multilaterally," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, whose office had received more than 20,000 contacts, of which about 300 were supportive of unilateral military action.
Still, public polls are running in favor of using force against Saddam Hussein and in support of President Bush.
An ABC News-Washington Post poll released Friday found 58 percent of respondents approved of the president's handling of Iraq. Furthermore, 61 percent favored the use of U.S. military forces to remove Saddam from power. Of those, more than three-fourths said they would feel that way even if U.S. allies opposed such action.
"I think what they are saying is they would like to see the problems with Iraq resolved, but they would like to see it worked out without war," said Rep. Michael N. Castle, Delaware Republican.
Several senators and staffers said part of the reason the calls don't match the polls is that someone who is in favor of war is much less likely to call to express their opinion.
Sen. Pete V. Domenici, New Mexico Republican, said he had met with 13 constituents and took an informal poll of the three men and 10 women. All supported the president's stance on Iraq, he said.
Some lawmakers said part of the discrepancy may be because the president's full-court press on the issue gives his opponents a rallying point.
That could explain the e-mails and phone calls to the office of Rep. Jim McDermott, Washington Democrat, who traveled to Iraq last week.
Spokesman John Larmett said calls went from about 80-to-1 opposed to war before the trip to about 50-50 during and after the trip. Many of those new calls in support of the president came from outside Mr. McDermott's Seattle district. Mr. Larmett said calls of support within the district still comprised about 85 percent of communications.
Michigan Democrat Rep. David E. Bonior, who traveled with Mr. McDermott, saw a boost in support for his position.
Communications to his office "tipped dramatically more toward the pro-'our position,'" spokesman Bob Allison said.
Sen. Sam Brownback, Kansas Republican, said the messages from letters and calls to his office were running opposed to war, but that reversed after former Vice President Al Gore questioned the president's Iraq policy and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, accused the president of politicizing national security.
"The week before last, they were solidly opposed to war. After the Gore speech and the Daschle speech, it definitely turned around," Mr. Brownback said.


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