|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
While a majority of Republican voters continue to support Mr. Bush and the Iraq war, including the recent increase in American troops deployed, there are concerns that the war is undermining the party’s political position. A majority of Republicans who were interviewed for a New York Times/CBS News poll this month said that things were going badly in Iraq and that Congress should allow financing only on the condition that the Iraqi government met benchmarks for progress.
In a poll in March, a majority of Republicans said that a candidate who backed Mr. Bush’s war policies would be at a decided disadvantage in 2008. They also suggested that they were open to supporting a candidate who broke with the president on the war.
That change of heart can be seen in many ways around the country. When the North Shore Women for Peace, a small group of antiwar activists from around here, first stood in the breezeway of a high-end strip mall in nearby Highland Park in the months leading up to the war, they drew sneers, expletives and many a thumbs-down.
By 2005, members said, they had found a more neutral audience, given to stares but little else. Recently, people smiled in support, honked their car horns and volunteered to join the cause at a peace rally.
“Anything I can sign?” asked one shopper, Lynne Black, a retiree from Wilmette. “I feel desperation at this point.”
Those feelings are reflected in Congressional districts across the country where Republican backers of the war are taking more political heat. Mr. Kirk would not be interviewed, but one of his biggest backers, the mayor of nearby Kenilworth, Tolbert Chisum, a Republican, described as “remarkable” the meeting between the 11 congressmen and Mr. Bush.
“Given a choice, none of us would want to be at war,” said Mr. Chisum, the committeeman of the largest Republican organization in the North Shore suburbs.
Mr. Chisum expressed confidence that Mr. Kirk would win re-election in 2008 but acknowledged that the battle was shaping up to be fierce, particularly since Democrats won control of both houses of Congress last November.
“I’m a realist,” Mr. Chisum said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen between now and the next election. Who would have thought there would be a complete rollover in the House and Senate?”
Interviews with voters, elected officials and others in Illinois, Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania — home to 4 of the 11 Republican congressmen who met with Mr. Bush about the war — suggest that more Republican voters are opposing the war, and that independents who might have voted Republican are moving toward supporting a Democrat.