First Lady Goes to Bat For President's Policies

Bloomberg News
Monday, May 15, 2006

First lady Laura Bush said polls showing her husband's approval rating at record lows reflect the difficulties the United States is facing rather than any lack of confidence in the president.

"We face many, many challenges, unprecedented challenges, when you think about the huge area of destruction after Hurricane Katrina or a war on terror," she said on "Fox News Sunday." The president has "hard decisions to make" on those issues, "and, of course, some people are unhappy about what some of those decisions are."

In interviews on Fox and ABC, the first lady defended President Bush's policies, including going to war in Iraq, setting up a domestic surveillance program after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and collecting information on telephone calls in the United States. She said she would step up campaigning for Republican congressional candidates before the November elections to make sure her husband's agenda moves forward.

Bush is one of the most popular first ladies of the modern era, according to Gallup Organization polling data, with 82 percent of the public saying in a January survey that they approve of the way she is handling her job. By contrast, a Gallup/USA Today poll conducted May 5 to 7 showed the president's approval rating at 31 percent, the lowest of his term in office.

"People know that he is doing what he thinks is right for the United States," Laura Bush said. "I travel around the country. I see people. I see their response to my husband."

Asked about attempts by some congressional Republicans to amend the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, Bush said the issue should not be used as a campaign tool.

"But I do think it's something that people in the United States want to debate," she said on Fox. "It requires a lot of sensitivity to talk about the issue, a lot of sensitivity."

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