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April 4th, 2008
06:00 PM ET

More than 1,000 Iraqi soldiers deserting

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The U.S. military turned over security responsibilities to Iraqi authorities in the mainly Shiite province of Karbala, Iraqi army soldiers rejoice. (PHOTO CREDIT: AP)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Here's something General David Petraeus probably doesn't want to talk about when he delivers his Iraq progress report to Congress next week: More than 1,000 Iraqi soldiers and police refused to fight during the battle against Shiite militias in Basra last week. One senior U.S. military official puts it this way: "They put down their arms, walked away, deserted, whatever you want to call it."

Remember how President Bush said when the Iraqis stand up, the United States can stand down? But what do we do if they just run away? The New York Times reports that the deserters included dozens of officers, including at least two senior field commanders.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki responded by quickly funneling 10,000 recruits from local Shiite tribes into the army. That made Sunni tribe members angry because the government has been less eager to recruit them. And of course it turns out U.S. forces were more involved in Basra than originally thought, with 550 U.S. troops backing up the shaky Iraqi operation.

All this comes as the latest National Intelligence Estimate paints a far more positive picture about progress in Iraq. Congressional sources say the NIE suggests the president's "surge" strategy is working. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a warning to General Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker not to quote "put a shine on recent events" in Iraq when they testify next week.

Here’s my question to you: What’s the U.S. future in Iraq if more than 1,000 Iraqi soldiers refused to fight in Basra last week?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

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Filed under: Iraq
April 4th, 2008
05:01 PM ET

Which candidate benefits when 81% think U.S. on wrong track?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: AP)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Americans are in a pretty foul mood these days. Between an economy in recession and an unpopular war entering its sixth year with no resolution in sight, we're not a happy bunch.

In fact, 81% of us say things in this country have "pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track," according to a New York Times/CBS News poll. A year ago it was 69%, and five years ago it was just 35%. It's the highest level of dissatisfaction ever recorded since this poll was first taken in the early '90s. Only 14% of Americans think we're headed in the right direction.

And the pain is spread across almost every demographic and political group – Democrats, Republicans, men, women, people who live in cities and those in rural areas, college and high school graduates.

The poll also found that compared to 5 years ago, 78% of Americans think things in the U.S. are worse. 17% say it's the same. And only 4% say things have improved.

The public's unhappiness began to rise with the onset of the war in Iraq. Now the economy is playing a big part in the darkening mood. Only 21% say the overall economy is in good condition, and nearly 2 in 3 say they think the economy is in a recession.

It's clear Americans are looking to the elections in November to offer a drastic change of course. Either John McCain, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama has to convince the public they can right this train. The one who does will be our next president.

Here’s my question to you: Which of the presidential candidates will most benefit from the fact that 81% of Americans think the country is on the wrong track?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?

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Filed under: 2008 Election
April 4th, 2008
02:18 PM ET

Should superdelegates make up their minds early?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Another day closer to the slow, painful, but inevitable end that seems more and more to be staring Hillary Clinton square in the face. Barack Obama has now drawn almost even with Clinton among the superdelegates.

Three months ago, Clinton led Obama by more than one hundred superdelegates. Now her lead is down to 28. Since March 4th, 17 superdelegates have publicly announced for Obama while Senator Clinton has actually lost one. They include New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal, who had been appointed the state's U-S attorney by Bill Clinton. Plus former President Jimmy Carter - who won't disclose who he's backing, but strongly hints that it's Obama.

Some Clinton supporters are now suggesting that she needs to top Obama in the popular vote in order to have any chance of winning. New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine says he may cast his superdelegate vote for Obama if Clinton doesn't win the popular vote. And Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha insists Clinton must win Pennsylvania and the popular vote. Polls there show Obama narrowing Clinton's one-time lead of more than 30 points to an average of just 11. Another Clinton superdelegate, Missouri Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, says he would "be stunned" if Obama isn't the next president of the United States.

One Democratic pollster told the Los Angeles Times, Obama is winning over superdelegates because "his arguments are more persuasive." Clinton has a whole team of aides who stay in constant touch with superdelegates in an attempt to keep them from deserting, but it's not working.

Meanwhile, DNC chairman Howard Dean is putting the pressure on the remaining undecided superdelegates – saying he wants them to make up their minds shortly after the voting ends in June.

Here’s my question to you: Should the DNC ask superdelegates to make up their minds early?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

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Filed under: Democratic Race