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By John F. Harris and Christopher Muste
The Washington Post
Tuesday 21 December 2004
Poll also finds slight majority favoring Rumsfeld's exit.
President Bush heads into his second term amid deep and growing public skepticism about the Iraq war, with a solid majority saying for the first time that the war was a mistake and most people believing that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld should lose his job, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
While a slight majority believe the Iraq war contributed to the long-term security of the United States, 70 percent of Americans think these gains have come at an "unacceptable" cost in military casualties. This led 56 percent to conclude that, given the cost, the conflict there was "not worth fighting" - an eight-point increase from when the same question was asked this summer, and the first time a decisive majority of people have reached this conclusion.
Bush lavished praise on Rumsfeld at a morning news conference yesterday, but the Pentagon chief who soared to international celebrity and widespread admiration after the terrorist attacks three years ago can be glad he answers to an audience of one. Among the public, 35 percent of respondents approved of his job performance and 53 percent disapproved; 52 percent said Bush should give Rumsfeld his walking papers.