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National Public Radio (NPR) April 5, 2004 Monday

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National Public Radio (NPR)

SHOW: Morning Edition (11:00 AM AM ET) - NPR

April 5, 2004 Monday

HEADLINE: James Clyburn and Marsha Blackburn discuss how constituents in their districts perceive events in Iraq

ANCHORS: BOB EDWARDS

BODY:

BOB EDWARDS, host:

Joining me now are two members of the US House of Representatives, Tennessee Republican Representative Marsha Blackburn and South Carolina Democrat James Clyburn. Both recently held Town Hall Meetings in their districts on subjects including Iraq.

Congressman Clyburn, you met with constituents two weeks ago before the attacks in Fallujah. What did you hear from them?

Representative JAMES CLYBURN (Democrat, South Carolina): Well, my constituents, by and large, in the last month or so just have not been discussing Iraq. They're interested in what's happening with jobs. They're interested in what's happening with roads and infrastructure in their community. They're interested in what's gonna happen to their children and their grandchildren. It's kind of interesting, but before, when Iraq was being talked about as a pursuit of this country, they were 75, 80 percent against any involvement in Iraq. I voted against it and I got not one single telephone call criticizing that vote.

EDWARDS: So there's been no change in opinion over the last several months?

Rep. CLYBURN: No, I don't think so. In my congressional district, most especially and surprisingly enough, throughout South Carolina, the majority of the people are opposed to this Iraqi invasion. They're opposed to our being there now, and they would love to see ...(unintelligible) yield some of its, if not all, of its power to the United Nations and get out of there and internationalize this issue.

EDWARDS: Does that surprise you that they're not talking more about this?

Rep. CLYBURN: Yes, it does. A year ago, when I found so much opposition-South Carolina is like most other Southern states. We're steeped in military tradition. My district includes military facilities and it is bordered by many others. And as a result, you would think that there would be a tremendous pro-military impression or attitude, but it's not.

EDWARDS: Well, what is the most important issue in your district?

Rep. CLYBURN: The most important issue in my district is what is happening to our jobs. Why are we having such a problem creating jobs in this country? Why are we outsourcing jobs? Why can't we provide better educational opportunities for our children? What is meant by a jobless recovery? People are just concerned about pocketbook issues. They're concerned about their futures. They're really, really concerned about whether or not they will have a future that is beneficial for them and their children.

EDWARDS: Thank you very much.

Rep. CLYBURN: Thank you.

EDWARDS: Tennessee Republican Representative Marsha Blackburn joins me now.

You just met with constituents in Columbia, Tennessee. Did the growing US military death toll or the terrible deaths of four American civilians in Fallujah last week have any bearing on views of the war in Iraq?

Representative MARSHA BLACKBURN (Republican, Tennessee): You know, one of the things that I found this weekend while I was in Columbia at Mule Day is that individuals there were saying, 'You know, we cannot leave. We need to strengthen our resolve. We need to be certain that we do not leave.' And of course everyone is concerned. They're concerned for the safety of our troops. They're concerned for the young men and women that they know who are in Iraq who are fighting, and they're concerned about the long-term effects of the war on terrorism.

EDWARDS: Has there been any change in your district, any change in opinion on the war over the last few months?

Rep. BLACKBURN: You know, one of the things that I have noticed is that folks are tremendously patriotic. They know that the war on terrorism is going to be a long, long war. They are holding as steadfast now as they did then. They are concerned about our troops. They're concerned about the continued insurgent activity that they see taking place in Iraq and concerned about how that does affect our troops.

EDWARDS: Is Iraq the most important issue in your district?

Rep. BLACKBURN: You know, we continue to hear about the economy. We hear about jobs. Individuals are very pleased with the tax cuts, and there's always questions about Iraq, about homeland security. And you know, one of the things that I've said repeatedly as we move into an election year is that this is a year where the issues are going to focus on security issues, security of the pocketbook and then of homeland security and always with an eye towards the fact that we need to be certain that we have a plan, we follow that plan and that we win in Iraq.

EDWARDS: Representative Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, and Representative James Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat.

END

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