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9/11 ceremonies worked well for President Bush

President Bush's surge in approval rating in recent days suggests that Republicans may pound even harder on the terrorism theme in the coming weeks before the November general election.

A recent USA TODAY/Gallup Poll showed his approval rate at 44 percent, the highest for this year, and up from 39 percent at the first of the month. The jump came immediately after the president addressed the nation on the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The memorials to 9/11 victims held around the country apparently rekindled a patriotic spirit that translated into renewed support for the president. For the first time in nine months, a majority of people questioned didn't say the war in Iraq is a mistake. Responses split 49 percent to 49 percent.

The bounce in the presidential standings also shows that the Republican political strategy of fear is working. The president peppered his anniversary remarks with statements of dire consequences to American freedom if Baghdad falls to insurgents.

Democrats are finding it difficult to persuade some voters that they are not soft on terrorism as the GOP implies. But the poll also found that 60 percent of the people don't think the president has a clear plan for ending the war and 75 percent said Iraq is in a civil war.

The president caught a break on falling gasoline prices, too.

Still, there is an awful lot of dissatisfaction with how the nation is going, which usually works against the ruling party at election time.

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