In the most conservative district in South Florida — Bush country — Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Foley is hearing more concern about the war from his constituents. Many now ask how and when it will end.
“Most have said, ‘We're there now, we've got to finish it with victory.’ So that's probably the majority,” Foley said. “But there's still an underbelly of unease over the whole issue.”
At the Osceola Street Cafe, there were split opinions.
“What good is our word?” asked Bob DeSantis. “If we make a commitment to anybody, we've got to honor it.”
But, at another table, Foley heard from voters opposed to the Iraq war who want the U.S. out.
“I have a bit of a problem marching into sovereign nations,” said one woman. “Bring the boys home — and the women.”
Ira Delgado, a restaurant owner and a Republican, is somewhere in the middle. He doesn't believe the U.S. should just cut and run, but he has become more concerned about casualties and now wants to hear an exit plan.
“Is there an end to this?” Delgado asked. “Because it seems like there is no end to it right now.”
That message was heard very clearly by Foley.
“I think,” he said, “simply staying the course is starting to wear thin with people.”
Especially thin among his district's seniors, moderate Republicans and independents, who are worried about the economic costs.
“The issues are going to be the budget deficit, and how do we justify the continuation of the war in Iraq because of that deficit,” said Jim Kane, chief pollster for the Florida Voter.
Foley insists most of his constituents still support the Bush administration’s handling of the war, but even in this Republican district there are more questions now.