Talk to Our Enemies? Most Americans Say Yes

Posted June 2, 2008 at 9:38am

One of the big points of contention as the general election campaign approaches is over Barack Obama’s stated willingness to meet with leaders of countries like Iran or Syria without preconditions, which would be a sharp departure from Bush administration policy. That has drawn sharp criticism from President Bush and John McCain.

Now, a Gallup panel survey conducted May 19-21 says large majorities of Democrats and independents and a fairly sizable chunk of Republicans believe a President should engage in diplomacy with leaders of countries considered enemies of the U.S. Democrats believe that by a 79 percent to 19 percent margin, independents by 70 percent to 29 percent and 48 percent of Republicans support that view, compared to 51 percent who oppose it. The foreign leader whose name most comes up in this debate is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and while Gallup notes that few Americans view Iran favorably in its polling, Democrats say by a 71 percent to 26 percent margin that it is a good idea, independents agree by 58 percent to 40 percent, and Republicans again line up 51 percent against the idea compared to 48 percent who favor it.