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Rough political landscape for Bush

A new poll shows that President Bush's job approval rating is at an all time low.  Hardball Correspondent David Shuster takes a look at the numbers.  Then, Senator Carl Levin joined Chris Matthews to discuss the controversial Dubai port deal.
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It‘s the president‘s lowest approval number since he got the job.  And aside from Richard Nixon, it is the lowest number for any second term president in more than 50 years.  At this point in their presidencies, Eisenhower‘s approval rating was at 58 percent, Reagan 65 and Clinton 57.  George W.  Bush stands at 34 percent. 

Perhaps the biggest blow to President Bush, is that he now finds himself fighting with his own party over an issue that helped get him reelected:  post 9-11 national security. 

In the wake of the terror attacks, the president‘s approval rating in handling the war on terror stood at 88 percent.  And even a year ago, nearly four years after 9/11, it was 61 percent.  But now the president‘s approval rating on the war on terror has dropped to 43.  Some of that loss may come from his support for the transaction that would let a state-owned company from Dubai control six U.S. ports.  President Bush commented, "If there was any doubt in my mind or people if my administration‘s mind that our ports would be less secure and the American people endangered, this deal wouldn‘t go forward."

But the public has doubts -- 70 percent of Americans oppose the deal, including 58 percent of Republicans.  After welcoming a 45-day review of the port transaction, the president is beginning to gain back some support from Republicans in Congress, including Congressman Peter King and Senate Republican leader Bill Frist.

But while the president may be getting a short reprieve on the port deal from his party on Capitol Hill, the slow recovery on the Gulf Coast from Hurricane Katrina is weighing his numbers down.  Two weeks after the government‘s slow response to hurricane victims, Americans were asked about the president‘s approach to Katrina and its aftermath, and 44 percent approved.  Now, six months later, with neighborhoods still in ruins, and New Orleans‘ population roughly half of what it used to be, the president‘s approval rating on Hurricane Katrina has dropped down to 32 percent. 

On Iraq, the president yesterday continued his call for optimism.

But with Iraq facing possible civil war, just 30 percent of Americans approve of how the president is handling Iraq—the lowest number since the war began three years ago.  And the number of Americans who think American efforts in Iraq are going badly is up to 62 percent—the highest level of frustration since the war began. 

The White House can take comfort in one number from the new CBS poll:  two-thirds of Americans say they heard enough about Vice President Cheney‘s shooting incident.  Nonetheless, the vice-president‘s approval rating has also dropped to a historic low, just 18 percent. 

Watch each night at 5 and 7 p.m. ET on MSNBC.