White House Watch: Aides say Bush has bottomed out
White House officials, citing new polls that show an uptick in the president's approval ratings, say the mood has changed significantly over the past two weeks as the administration moves into the 2006 election year.
"It was rough there," said a key Bush adviser. "But I felt the mood change a week ago, and now people seem more confident. I think we've bottomed out."
The insiders attribute the shift in polls and mood to the president's decision to leave Washington to give speeches addressing the economy, the war, and immigration.
"It's the usual pattern, and we knew it. The president was the only one who could make things change," said another Bush aide. The mood shift has lifted the spirits of those involved in drawing up the State of the Union message and the fiscal 2007 budget. While few expect the budget to be filled with new programs, the aides said it will set the scene for the issues that are likely to dominate the 2006 midterm elections.
Meanwhile, the budget is in the final stages of being settled. Agencies are now appealing cuts, one of the last moves before the budget is locked down.