President Obama didn't take sagging polls into account that show Americans are more than weary of waging wars overseas before deciding how many troops he would pull out of Afghanistan.
"It really doesn't play a role," a senior administration official said Wednesday when asked about the public's souring opinion. "He looks at the objectives that we're trying to meet in Afghanistan and the resources that are necessary to meet those objectives."
The number of people in favor of bringing troops home from Afghanistan as quickly as possible is now at an all time high of 56 percent, according to a new Pew poll - indicating the strong support for the fight when Mr. Obama was elected has turned to almost as strong opposition to it.
But while public opinion may not have dictated President Obama's decision, his administration was careful to point out overall troop numbers in both Afghanistan and Iraq that they think most Americans will see as steps in a positive direction.
"If you look at the total number of U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan," another official told reporters in a conference call ahead of President Obama's speech, "it was roughly 180,000 when the president took office."
"Given this decision today and our plans in Iraq, by the end of this year that number should be at under 100,000," he continued. "[T]he number of U.S. troops in harm's way in Iraq and Afghanistan is already reduced by several tens of thousands and will be even more dramatically reduced by the end of this year."
And by the end of next summer, significantly more troops will be back at home bases in Europe and the United States.