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Bush Enjoys Solid Job Approval Rating, Poll Says

Aired February 27, 2001 - 4:33 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Just hours before he presents his first budget to Congress, President Bush started selling it, meeting last hour with some of the Republican leadership. They say all members of Congress should give the president's plan a fair shake, a plan that would use the budget surplus to pay down the national debt and offer some tax relief at the same time.

The president has said a tax cut is just what the country needs to get the economy going again. But can he sell it to all of us, the people? That's what Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of the Gallup Poll, has been looking at today -- Frank.

FRANK NEWPORT, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, GALLUP POLL: Joie, I think, as we phrased it, there are challenges that Bush is going to face in trying to sell the tax cut component of his budget plan to the American public.

Look at the numbers; this is always interesting for us, because when we at Gallup ask people about tax cuts, for many, years, usually the initial response is positive. Here's three different times in February alone when we asked about Bush's tax cut plan this month. Every time, over 50 percent say they favor this tax cut plan. Remember, this is just an isolation. And just about a third -- that's an important number -- said they are opposed. So, he starts out with people saying, yeah, I kind of like the idea of tax cuts.

Republicans are most strong in their support -- not a great shock -- you see 8 of 10 over here; these are Republican supported. Independents more likely to support than not. Here's his problem: he's got Democrats --rank and file Democrats, I should say -- 60 percent right out of the chute say no, we're opposed to Bush's tax cut.

Here's some of the challenges: once his opponents get hold of his plan and start to really hit at some of these issues we think he's vulnerable in some ways. First of all, it's a low priority. The average American thinks they will get about with $700 out of it, which isn't a huge amount of money.

Also, look at the vulnerability on these two issues. When we ask people, could his plan hurt Social Security; that is, drain money away from Social Security? Almost 6 out of 10 Americans say that's at least somewhat likely. Look at this one: if we ask about favoring the rich, you have 75 percent of Americans willing to agree that it's at least somewhat likely; his plan would favor the rich. And the Democrats have already picked up on this; remember that Lexus out there in front of the Capitol: that's what the rich would get. And a muffler, what the average person would get. Well, you can see that Bush, indeed, is vulnerable on that score.

All in all, however, we think Bush looks pretty good in terms of personal approval, which is, over here: about 67 percent; job approval rating, about 62 percent -- these are pretty good numbers -- that 62 from last week is about where his father was in February of 1989. So, he has got a pretty receptive audience.

But Joie, all in all, we think, as I said before, he has some challenges to sell this plan, as his opponents start to jab at some of its vulnerabilities. Back to you, Joie.

CHEN: All right, Frank, thank you very much.

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