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WASHINGTON - A solid majority of Americans oppose immediately pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq, citing as a main reason the desire to finish the job of stabilizing the country, an AP-Ipsos poll found.
Some 57 percent of those surveyed said the U.S. military should stay until Iraq is stabilized, while 36 percent favor an immediate troop withdrawal. A year ago, 71 percent of respondents favored keeping troops in Iraq until it was stabilized.
In an effort to build public support for his Iraq policy, President Bush planned an Oval Office address for Sunday night to discuss the U.S. mission and what lies ahead in 2006.
The speech will be his first from the Oval Office since March 2003 when he announced the invasion of Iraq. In the past two weeks, the president has given four speeches on Iraq.
In the poll, when people were asked in an open-ended question the main reason the U.S. should keep troops in Iraq, 32 percent said to stabilize the country and 26 percent said to finish the rebuilding job under way.
Only one in 10 said they wanted to stay in Iraq to fight terrorism; just 3 percent said to protect U.S. national security.
"You've got to finish the job," said Terry Waterman, a store manager from Superior, Wis. "The whole world is looking to us for leadership. We can't have another Vietnam."