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Reagan, Iraq spur Bush rise in poll

WASHINGTON -- President Bush got a boost from the public's recent focus on the funeral of Ronald Reagan and support for his Iraq policy spiked over the last month as the United States prepared to hand power over to Iraqis, according to a poll released yesterday.

Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center, said the poll found evidence that Bush got a benefit from the attention paid to the Reagan funeral and the moves toward a handover of power in Iraq. Interviews for the poll started before Reagan's death and continued during the coverage of the extended period of memorials and funerals.

"Bush got a little lift last week from the Reagan commemoration," Kohut said. "His [approval] ratings were 44 percent in interviewing done before . . . and went up to 50 percent after Reagan's death."

The survey took place before the Sept. 11 commission's Wednesday statement that it has found no credible evidence Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda had a collaborative relationship.

Bush's job approval rating in the poll was 48 percent, up slightly from 44 percent in May, according to the poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. The poll of 1,806 adults was taken from June 3 to 13 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, slightly higher for the sample of registered voters.

Bush had a slight lead over Kerry in a three-way matchup; the president was at 46 percent, Kerry at 42 percent, and independent Ralph Nader at 6 percent. Bush and Kerry were tied in a two-way race.

Almost six in 10, 57 percent, said the situation in Iraq is going well, up from 46 percent a month earlier. Almost that many, 55 percent, said military action in Iraq was the right decision, up slightly from 51 percent a month earlier.

Optimism that US troops will come home in the next two years increased from 35 percent in April to 50 percent in the current poll.

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