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9/11 Remembrances, Rhetoric, Leave Ohioans Unswayed

Attitudes about the war in Iraq seem to be little changed by the events of the past week. Hearings in Congress, the 9/11 anniversary and Thursday night's address by President Bush don't seemed to have caused central Ohioans to rethink their positions.

At the end of a week that saw the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq testifying on Capitol Hill; a presidential address to the nation Thursday night and new warnings from terrorist Osama Bin Laden, people in the Columbus area seemed unmoved. Columbus resident Scott Martin was walking toward a shady spot in Goodale Park Friday afternoon.

"Nothing I've heard has changed my mind," Martin says. "It actually seems like Bush is just trying to say more "Stay the course" which is kind of what he's always been saying and he's trying to kind of use different terms to apply to the same situation. It didn't change anything that I was thinking at all."

Martin says the Bush administration needs to get more realistic about the complexities of U.S. involvement in Iraq. He says he favors a phased withdrawal of U.S. forces and says the Iraqi government should be held to the already agreed upon milestones.

In Worthington, June Berkley had a similar opinion. She says recent events make it more clear just how complicated the situation is."

"It has intensified my understanding of what an intractable problem this is," Berkley says. "I think there's no good way out, more than ever. There's no simple answer. I'm not persuaded of progress and I lament that we were ever there in the first place. It's a tragic situation."

A few blocks away at a pub on High Street Scott Reese from Grove City says he's convinced the U.S. mission in Iraq is good.

"I'd like to see em get Osama," Reese says. "I think that would set everything straight. Other than that I think we're still doing the right thing."

"My name is Ron Kaiser and I live in Westerville, Ohio. No I support President Bush 100 percent. I believe that we need to be there and we need to finish what we started there and stop with all the political crap that people are trying to get the troops out of there. That's the problem I see that we've had in the past is we go in there and then we leave to early. Let's go in there with all the force we need, get the job done, and then come home," Kaiser says.

Lunch time at Tommy's Diner in Columbus means a packed house. This is Nick Geldes of Columbus.

"It hasn't changed my mind about anything, Geldes says. "It's the same I call it different lipstick on the pig. Saying the same thing but saying it in a different way and nuancing it a little bit."

"My name's Mike Kelley. I live in Sunbury, Ohio. I did here the comment that Bush made that he would try to withdraw more troops, if we could. Which tells me that's political hogwash and when push comes to shove, he won't," Kelley says.

At present there are about 168,000 troops in Iraq. And if, as the president says, the effectiveness of the surge continues, 21,000 will be home by next July. But Dan Stewart of Columbus says he wishes the administration were listening more to the American people.

"That was a minor change in policy," Stewart says. "At best they're going to be bringing back about the amount of the surge so we'll be about the same level. I'm afraid the president and the leadership are not really listening to the public. This policy is not working and they don't seem to be addressing that."

Still the President's supporters are steadfast.

"My name is Sandra Logan. No, it hasn't changed my mind about the war. I think we need to ride it through to the end. We need to get out of there as soon as we can but we need to do it slowly and diplomatically and that seems to me to be the way they're going," Logan says.

"I'm Lisa Kennedy from Westerville. We're doing the right thing. We have people over there to promote the agenda that we started out to do and I think we should continue on with that," she says.

A Worthington resident may sum up the feelings of a lot of central Ohioans.

"I'm Martha Spout. I live here in Worthington. I wish we hadn't gone in the first place. But I'm not sure that we could yank them all out at once now that we're there."

Sprout continued, "I don't have the answer."