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Gallup Poll: 40 Percent of Americans Believe U.S. Military Deteriorating

Aired August 31, 2000 - 1:33 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Republican nominee George W. Bush reached a milestone today in Ohio. Springfield High School in the northwest Ohio town of Holland was the 100th school Mr. Bush has visited since he started his run for the presidency. He will visit school number 101 in 10 minutes in Louisville, Kentucky.

Both major parties, meantime, are going on the offensive with new television ads. A Republican ad due to start airing tomorrow reminds viewers of Gore's controversial fund-raising appearance at a Buddhist temple in '96. The Democratic spot takes aim at Bush for his state's long-running problems on providing health care to poor children.

Bush's running mate is using the U.S. military as a weapon against Gore. In an interview with CNN, Dick Cheney, a former secretary of defense, you'll recall, repeated the Republican contention that President Clinton has short-changed the armed forces.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have serious problems now in terms of lack of spare parts, shortages of ammunition, overdeployments to the extent our people are gone all the time, they're never home with their families. It's that combination of sort of overcommitments lots of times to nonessential missions like Haiti while at the same time we cut the budget, short-change the force and expect them to do more with less.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATERS: Do the voters agree?

The folks at Gallup have been asking questions. Frank Newport joins us today with some answers -- Frank.

FRANK NEWPORT, GALLUP POLL EDITOR IN CHIEF: Well, Lou, the answer to that question, does the public agree with what candidate Cheney was saying there? is, in a mixed sense, yes and no. But I think they do agree more now than they would have when the Clinton administration started in '93, and that's probably good news for the position the Republicans are trying to advance.

First of all, should the U.S. be number-one militarily? Is it important? And the public agrees, yes; 61 percent said back in '93 when the Clinton administration took over. Now, this past weekend, that was 70 percent.

So no question about it, Americans do say it's worth the money for the U.S. to be number-one militarily.

Now, what about the current state of the military? What's the opinion of the public? They may not know all the facts, but we're interested in public opinion on it. You can see only 19 percent says the military's getting better these ways. This is the relative column right here in the middle. Four out of 10 say that the U.S. military, in their view, is getting worse and is less able to fight wars. About the same number say it's about the same.

So that's why we say it's mixed. It's not a majority, but, still, 40 percent of Americans agree with the Bush-Cheney position.

Very partisan here. This is just the percent who say the military's getting worse, the position Bush and Cheney have been advocating. Republicans -- look at that -- 60 percent agree, 41 percent of Independents, but only 22 percent of Democrats. They're more loyal, of course, to the Clinton administration.

Finally, going back to 1993, are we spending too little or too much in the military? Well, back in '93 when the Clinton administration started, just 77 -- 17 percent -- excuse me -- that red bar, said we were spending too little. Now, this past weekend when we re-asked it, that's up to 40 percent.

Again, not a majority, but four out of 10 Americans say we're not spending enough on the military -- some support, all in all, we think, for the positions that Cheney and Bush are trying to advocate in their campaign -- Lou.

WATERS: All right, Frank Newport at Gallup.

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