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October 31: Deadly Month Is Finally Over in Iraq

A U.S. soldier operates a checkpoint setup around Karrada in central Baghdad Tuesday.
A U.S. soldier operates a checkpoint setup around Karrada in central Baghdad Tuesday.

More than 100 members of the U.S. force in Iraq were killed in October, making it the deadliest month for U.S. forces there since January 2005. Sectarian violence raged throughout the month-long Ramadan, despite a beefed-up U.S. presence.

Vice President Cheney said Monday that he believes the upsurge in violence in Iraq is aimed at influencing next week's congressional elections.

The Pentagon has long barred news photographers when coffins are being unloaded at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, and the White House has worked to minimize the sense of American losses in the conflict.


But many Americans have decided they aren't happy about the war -- and that feeling has been growing for some time.

Polls show a plurality of Americans disapprove of the war, feel that it was a mistake in the first place, disapprove of the President's handling of it -- and believe that Democrats would do a better job.

Asked specifically Tuesday about the death toll in October, White House spokesman Tony Snow said President Bush was aware of the number.

"Yes, the president understands that it is difficult," Snow said. "And this is a man who signs each and every condolence note. He is absolutely aware of the human cost, and he grieves for every family and every person that we've lost."

But the climbing death toll in Iraq is not the sole reason most Americans are unhappy with the war. Duke University professor Christopher Gelpi, who studies public opinion, says it's the popular sense that progress is not being made in Iraq that's led to the decline in public support.


"I don't actually think it's U.S. casualties that are really driving things," Gelpi said, "as much as the on-going perception that there is this civil war for which we have no solution."

While many Democrats have long opposed the war in Iraq, what makes this such a difficult issue for Republicans this year is the growing tendency for political centrists and moderates to join in the war criticism. Gelpi says his analysis shows thats bad news for the Republican Party.

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