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Most in U.S. think Bush was lax on Terror

by Randall Mikkelsen Friday, Apr. 02, 2004 at 12:45 PM

Bush's overall job approval rating is 51 percent, down slightly from November and just above the 50 percent level that heralds a danger zone for candidates seeking reelection.

Reuters, 4/1/2004

WASHINGTON - Most Americans agree with a former White House counterterrorism chief that President Bush was lax on terrorism before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, a poll published on Thursday found.

However, the poll also found that a majority of Americans still support Bush's record on security, a key issue in his reelection effort.

The poll by the Los Angeles Times found that 52 percent of Americans agreed with charges by the former official, Richard Clarke, that Bush "failed to take the threat of terrorism seriously enough" before the attacks, while 40 percent disagreed.

An even larger share, 57 percent, agreed with Clarke that Bush placed a higher priority on invading Iraq than on combating terrorism.

Clarke's charges have received immense publicity in recent weeks -- in testimony before a commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, in media coverage of a new book by Clarke, and in the White House's ferocious counterattack against his credibility.

The Los Angeles Times survey of 1,616 Americans, taken March 27-30, also found that 56 percent approved of Bush's handling of the war on terrorism, and 59 percent believed he had made the country more secure -- a figure little changed since November.

Those findings are significant for an election year in which Bush, who has called himself a "war president," has made his leadership of the fight against global terrorism a major campaign theme.


"While the new questions about Bush's initial response to the terrorist threat could pose a long-term problem for him, the poll suggests the controversy (over Clarke's charges) has not significantly changed the dynamics propelling the country toward another close presidential race," the newspaper said in its report on the poll.

A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released earlier this week also found majority support for Bush's handling of the terrorism issue, but said the 58 percent support represented the lowest level since measurement began after the Sept. 11 attacks.

A survey released on Wednesday by the nonpartisan Council for Excellence in Government found that fewer than half of Americans -- 47 percent -- believed the United States was safer now than before the Sept. 11 attacks, although the share was greater than the 38 percent minority one year after the attacks.

The Los Angeles Times poll also found some support for the White House's criticisms of Clarke, with 58 percent saying his book was politically motivated. But only 28 percent agreed with charges by some Republicans that his criticisms were motivated by a failure to win a promotion from Bush.

In the presidential campaign pitting Bush against Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the poll showed Kerry leading Bush by 49 percent to 46 percent among voters, a difference within the poll's 3-point margin of error.

Bush's overall job approval rating was 51 percent, down slightly from November and just above the 50 percent level that heralds a danger zone for candidates seeking reelection.

The newspaper said the share of Americans who cited security issues as their top concern was the same as those who picked economic issues.
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After 8 previous years... Walker, Texas Anger Saturday, Apr. 03, 2004 at 1:24 AM
there was no real outrage over Waco Bullspit! Saturday, Apr. 03, 2004 at 6:18 AM
OneEyedMan KPC Saturday, Apr. 03, 2004 at 8:45 AM
OneEyedMan KPC Saturday, Apr. 03, 2004 at 8:55 AM
Moon logic antilunitic Saturday, Apr. 03, 2004 at 9:01 AM
Have I got a car for you! An end to tyranny and mutation Saturday, Apr. 03, 2004 at 9:30 AM
OneEyedMan KPC Saturday, Apr. 03, 2004 at 10:11 AM
OneEyedMan KPC Saturday, Apr. 03, 2004 at 11:17 AM
OneEyedMan KPC Saturday, Apr. 03, 2004 at 11:30 AM
OneEyedMan KPC Monday, Apr. 05, 2004 at 8:05 AM
time for hamburgers! Walker, Texas Plumber Monday, Apr. 05, 2004 at 1:11 PM
geez, Wanker Pat Riot Monday, Apr. 05, 2004 at 2:02 PM
Walker's got it absolutely right Barney Monday, Apr. 05, 2004 at 7:15 PM
Off the hook PAIN Walker, Texas Anger Monday, Apr. 05, 2004 at 8:18 PM
that clears that up . Tuesday, Apr. 06, 2004 at 3:27 AM
fresca neither do I Wednesday, Apr. 07, 2004 at 10:12 AM

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