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November 19, 2005 3:00 AM

Many constituents side with Murtha in opposition to war

They take war seriously at the American Legion Hall in downtown Johnstown, Pa. If theres ever a place to find support for U.S. troops, its here. But regulars at the posts dark corner bar applauded Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., for urging the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq. Elsewhere in town, some raged at Murtha for turning on a war they still supported. Crazy, said one constituent. Traitor, said several callers to his district office. But mostly people in Murthas blue-collar, coal-and-steel country district in west Pennsylvania signaled weariness for the war. They endorse the man who has represented them since he became the first Vietnam veteran elected to Congress in 1974. The support suggested that attacks on Murtha in Washington as a coward will gain no traction in his district. His continued political strength in the face of vicious Republican attacks could potentially embolden others to speak out against the war, though its too early to know for sure.

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