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Last Updated: Friday, 21 October 2005, 02:18 GMT 03:18 UK
Bush plagued by domestic troubles
By Matt Frei
BBC News, Washington

US President George Bush with Mahmoud Abbas in the White House Rose Garden
Life is not all roses at present for US President George W Bush
US President George W Bush is facing growing political difficulties and mounting criticism even from his own supporters.

During a news conference with the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, on Thursday Mr Bush was repeatedly asked about domestic issues including his controversial decision to nominate his former personal lawyer to the Supreme Court.

"Mr President," asked one member of the press corps, "There are a lot of distractions for your White House: the CIA leak investigation, a conservative uproar, congressional criticism over the Harriet Miers nomination.

"How preoccupied is the White House with these problems and how are you dealing with that?"

From the president, a strained-sounding reply: "There is some background noise here, a lot of chatter, but the American people expect me to do my job and I am going to."

Rock bottom

There are two names and two headaches for Mr Bush.

The first is Harriet Miers - legal counsel, friend and now his pick for the august Supreme Court, attacked by the right as a lightweight and the left as a crony.

Karl Rove
Mr Bush's adviser Karl Rove faces possible indictment

Then there is Karl Rove, the architect of his political triumphs, now facing a possible indictment for his role in a scandal that harks back to the Iraq War.

On Washington DC's think tank alley, the conservatives are worried, the liberals chuckling and the pollsters recording a 38% approval rating - rock bottom for Mr Bush.

Andrew Kohut, of the Pew Research Center, says: "They are reactions to performance, they are reactions to Iraq, Katrina and a lack of progress on a whole range of domestic issues.

"Seeing the Republicans in the administration as beleaguered by accusations just adds fuel to the fires of discontent."

Damage control?

So much for Washington, but what about Bush country?

In Louisville, Kentucky, the well-heeled fundraisers for the southern Baptist Seminary still love George Bush.

But they are worried that his mission has been hijacked by events.

Dr Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, says: "With the issues like abortion and euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research and with the ominous development of the calls for same-sex marriage - all of this means that we need presidential leadership and we need it now."

A year ago it all looked so different.

A Republican president re-elected to the White House, improved Republican majorities on Capitol Hill, and in the heartland - in places like Kentucky - there was even talk of a conservative revolution.

Today, however, the talk is mainly about damage control and missed opportunities.

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