The Iraq war continues to be a key issue in the U.S. congressional election campaign. Polls show public discontent with the conflict could help propel opposition Democrats to victory in at least one of the two houses of the legislature. President Bush remains confident the pollsters will be proven wrong and Americans will keep the U.S. Congress in Republican hands.
President Bush says his party - the Republican Party - will prevail at the polls. "I can't tell you what the margins of victory are going to be. But I believe our candidates will go out and talk about the issues that matter and we will win." In a recorded interview broadcast on ABC's This Week program, the president said Republicans are doing a far better job of protecting the American people than Democrats ever could. He said he is confident they will make their case successfully to the electorate, despite polls that indicate a Democratic victory could be imminent, at least in the House of Representatives.
"I have heard all the speculation and all the predictions. And I believe if our candidates stick with security and tell the American people we have got the plan to protect this country against these terrorists who want to hit us, and talk about the economy, they will do just fine."
But leading Democrats say the ongoing conflict in Iraq is fueling voter discontent that will be evident at the polls. During an appearance on CBS's Face the Nation, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York said there is a strong desire for change.
"This stay the course policy that the president has advocated and the Republican Congress has rubber-stamped is just not good enough. And people everywhere are asking for change."
Top Republican do not deny that Iraq has become a big election issue. Senator Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina says that is certainly the case in her state, which is home to numerous military bases. But she adds throughout American history, voters
have tended to base their choices on local issues when it comes time to choose a member of the legislature.
She also appeared on Face the Nation where she quoted a former Democratic speaker of the house.
"I think that certainly local issues in the choice between two candidates, as Tip O'Neil used to say, are always very important."
A new poll released Saturday by Newsweek magazine showed that more than half of Americans 55% would like to see Democrats take control of Congress. But there are still two weeks until Election Day on November 7th, and several races that could determine the outcome, especially in the Senate, remain very close.