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Week of 11.3.06

Sway the Course?

With less than a week to go before the election, it's clear no single issue will have more impact than the war in Iraq. This week NOW goes to one of the most pro-military districts in the country -- the Texas 31st -- to see how people deeply affected by our presence in Iraq might vote next Tuesday.

This conservative district is home to Fort Hood, the largest active duty army base in America, and almost everyone living there has a personal connection to the war. Since the war began, Fort Hood has sent tens of thousands of young men and women to fight in Iraq.

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Despite the district's support for the military, Democrat Mary Beth Harrell, is trying to win a seat in Congress with a campaign strongly critical of President Bush's war policy. "The civilian leadership, this administration, this rubber stamp Congress, has failed our troops, and failed our community, and failed our country," Harrell told NOW.

She is challenging the pro-war Republican incumbent, Congressman John Carter, who argues that the war is vital to protecting America from terrorists. Matt McAdoo, a 26-year-old libertarian candidate, is also in the running. He believes U.S. troops in Iraq should "pack up and leave."

Can a platform that's strongly critical of the Administration's handling of the war take hold in this reddest of districts? "Everybody here has felt the pain of what's going on," Jerry Morris, a district resident and retired Army Major told NOW. "So I think people here are more willing to say, 'maybe we need to rethink what we're doing.'"

Texas' 31st district, close to both Austin and Waco, is home to Fort Hood
Texas' 31st district, close to both Austin and Waco, is home to Fort Hood
A New York Times/CBS News poll conducted just days ahead of the election confirms this view. It showed that only 29 percent of Americans approve of the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq war. The war was also considered the most important issue affecting their vote.

The majority of those polled -- some 61 percent -- believe that the U.S. should change its strategy for fighting the war compared with only 8 percent who said the U.S. should continue its current approach. This week on NOW we ask: Is the war in Iraq changing the minds of even the most entrenched voters?

Related Links:

NOW: Hit or Miss - Journalist Brian Palmer reports from the front lines of Anbar, the Iraqi province where roughly one third of at least 104 U.S. casualties in October were killed

NOW: Iraq War Coverage - View NOW reports on the war since it began in 2003

Council on Foreign Relations: Iraq Looms over U.S. Elections

The Economist: The Armed Forces and Iraq - The Silent Majority

The Economist: Special Report -- America's Midterm Elections

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America: Congressional Rating

Interview: Andrew Sullivan
» Video available above

Andrew Sullivan Also this week, David Brancaccio talks with maverick journalist Andrew Sullivan about why he has so drastically changed his feelings about President Bush and the war in Iraq. He once supported both, but now he is calling on citizens to "vote Democrat or abstain" in next week's elections.

"We have a president prepared to lie through his teeth about the central issue of our time. He is dishonoring his office and shirking his responsibility. In peacetime, this is disgrace enough. In wartime, it is unforgivable," Sullivan wrote on his popular blog, The Daily Dish.

Sullivan also touches on other hot button issues in next week's races.

About Andrew Sullivan

Andrew Sullivan is a journalist, blogger, and former editor of The New Republic. His six year-old blog, The Daily Dish, is one of the Internet's most linked-to blogs and is featured on TIME.com.

Sullivan began his career at The New Republic in 1986 as an intern. He served as associate editor and deputy editor before becoming editor from 1991 to 1996. His tenure at the magazine was often turbulent, controversial and pioneering.

While there he expanded into new editorial territories covering topics such as the future of hip-hop, same-sex marriage and affirmative action in the newsroom. Under Sullivan, the magazine campaigned for early intervention in Bosnia, for homosexual equality (Sullivan is openly gay), and against affirmative action. In his final year as editor of the magazine, he was named Adweek's 1996 Editor of the Year.

Sullivan has worked as contributing writer and columnist for The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review and the Sunday Times of London. He

graduated from Oxford University with a B.A. in modern history. He received his master's in public administration and a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University.

His latest book is "The Conservative Soul: How We Lost It, How to Get It Back."

More from NOW:

Read Andrew Sullivan's online debate with Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post, on the role of blogs in the upcoming elections: