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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 December 2005, 09:51 GMT
'Sharp rise' in Bush popularity
George W Bush
President Bush robustly defending the phone-tapping programme
US President George W Bush's popularity appears to have received a significant boost from last week's Iraq elections.

An opinion poll, carried out for ABC News and the Washington Post, shows his approval rating has risen to 47%, from an all-time low of 39% in November.

High voter turnout in Iraq and growing public confidence in Mr Bush's handling of national security and the economy led to the rise, the poll suggests.

It comes as Mr Bush faces mounting criticism over secret phone tapping.

The latest opinion poll shows his approval rating on Iraq has risen by 10% since early November to 46%. On the economy, his rating has jumped 11 points, to 47%, the Washington Post reports.

His overall approval rating has risen to 47%, from 39% in early November. Some 52% say they disapprove of how he is handling his job.

The poll found that approval over Mr Bush's handling of the fight against terrorism had risen to 56%, from 48% last month.

Defending phone-tapping

The results will be seen by the White House as vindication of a concerted public relations effort in recent weeks, during which Mr Bush has given no less than five speeches on Iraq, says the BBC's James Coomerasamy in Washington.

The fact that we're discussing this programme is helping the enemy
President George W Bush

His positive message about the Iraqi elections has been overshadowed by revelations that he signed a secret presidential order following 9/11, allowing the National Security Agency to track the international telephone calls and e-mails of hundreds of people without referral to the courts.

Previously, surveillance on American soil was generally limited to foreign embassies.

At a press conference on Monday, Mr Bush again defended his decision to allow the programme.

He emphasised that only international calls were monitored without a court order - those originating in the US, or those placed from overseas to individuals living in the US.

Mr Bush also urged Congress to renew the Patriot Act, the top US anti-terror law, saying it provided officials with the tools to protect Americans.

The legislation has cleared the House of Representatives, but the Senate has rejected an attempt to reauthorise several sections of the bill. The legislation is due to expire at the end of the month.

Hear analysis of President Bush's remarks

Bush defends phone-tapping policy
19 Dec 05 |  Americas
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17 Dec 05 |  Americas
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21 Dec 05 |  Americas
US House renews anti-terror law
22 Jul 05 |  Americas

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