Americans are divided over President Trump’s decision to kill Iranian General Qassem Soleimani but are slightly more likely to say it was the right move than the wrong one, according to a poll released Monday.
The Quinnipiac University Poll said 45% of voters thought the killing made Americans less safe, however, while 32% thought it improved safety and 18% said it had no impact.
Even so, a majority of voters (58%) do not think tensions with Iran will topple into a war.
Mr. Trump said he ordered the drone strike to kill Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s Quds force, near Baghdad because of intelligence suggesting the general was plotting new attacks on Americans. His administration has struggled at times to explain whether those attacks were imminent, or the exact targets and timing of those threats, leading to tensions with Congress.
Mr. Trump on Monday insisted he’s been consistent, though he focused on Soleimani’s past behavior instead of forward-looking threats.
“Here’s what’s been consistent: We killed Soleimani, the number one terrorist in the world by every account,” Mr. Trump told White House reporters as he left for the college football championship game in Louisiana.
“Bad person, killed a lot of Americans, killed a lot of people. We killed him,” Mr. Trump said. “And when the Democrats try and defend him, it’s a disgrace to our country. They can’t do that. And let me tell you, it’s not working politically very well for them. So we killed the number one terrorist in the world, Soleimani, and it should have been done 20 years ago.”
Mr. Trump last week told the Americans people that Iran appeared to be standing down after firing a series of retaliatory missiles that struck Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops. No one was hurt in the attacks, and Mr. Trump said Tehran should choose peace and negotiation in lieu of further violence.
Indeed, an actual war with Iran would be unpopular.
Nearly two-thirds of American voters, or 64%, would oppose the U.S. going to war with Iran, while roughly a quarter would back it, according to Quinnipiac.
Democrats and independents would oppose war by large margins, though Republicans said they could support it, 55% to 31%.
A similar share of voters said Mr. Trump should consult with Congress before launching more military strikes in the Middle East (65%), though responses once again split along ideological lines, with Republicans less eager for Mr. Trump to seek permission from Capitol Hill.
His general approval rating of 43% is tied for his highest since taking office, and his approval rating for handling the economy is at a record high, with voters back his approach 57% to 38%.
“In the wake of the recent major events surrounding Iran, President Trump’s job approval holds steady, continuing to match his highest approval ever. And with just under 300 days until Americans go to the polls, Trump receives his best ever approval of his handling of the economy,” said Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Tim Malloy.
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