Bush Loses Ground on Terror
The Rocky Mountain News
President Bush's high marks for waging war on terrorism have been the bedrock of his popularity and his re-election campaign. Traditionally, commander in chief is the cornerstone for any incumbent, and this president is no exception. But recently, Bush's image as the wartime steward has taken a hit, from former counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke's compelling testimony that the Bush administration ignored the terrorist threat for months to the president's insistence - then reversal - that national security adviser Condoleezza Rice won't testify before the Sept. 11 commission. In that time, polls show Bush's strength on handling terrorism has eroded.
Bush's approval rating on handling terrorism dropped from 70 percent to 57 percent between January and March in a Newsweek poll released last weekend. Other polls have shown his approval dropping from the mid 60s to the high 50s during the winter. Many voters agree with Clarke's principal complaints about Bush on terror, according to a Los Angeles Times poll released Thursday. More than half of voters, particularly independents, say they agree with claims that Bush didn't pay enough attention to terrorism before the attacks and say he was more focused on invading Iraq than making terrorism his top priority.
Unclear is what impact the images of the grisly deaths of four Americans Wednesday in the Iraqi town of Fallujah will have on the president's standing. Bush has proclaimed Iraq as the central battleground in the war against terror.