Saturday 06 December 2008 | USA feed | All feeds


Bush takes a six-point lead after new bin Laden tape

George W Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger
George W Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger salute the crowd in Columbus, Ohio

President Bush has opened a six-point lead over John Kerry in the first opinion poll to include sampling taken after the new Osama bin Laden videotape was broadcast on Friday night.

The Newsweek poll published yesterday, only three days before the presidential election, put Mr Bush on 50 per cent and Mr Kerry on 44 per cent. A similar poll conducted a week earlier gave the president 48 per cent to his Democratic challenger's 46 per cent.

If the trend is confirmed by other polls, Mr Bush may have his greatest enemy to thank for helping him secure another four years in the White House after the appearance of the video sparked a sharp final round of argument over which candidate can best defeat terrorism.

The president began another hectic day on the campaign trail yesterday with a conference call to his security and intelligence chiefs to discuss the content of the tape. He directed Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, and the heads of the CIA, FBI and justice and homeland security departments to "make sure all action is being taken", a spokesman said.

Intelligence analysts are studying the tape - in which al-Qaeda's chief mocked Mr Bush, threatened Americans and acknowledged responsibility for the atrocities of September 11 2001 for the first time - for any coded messages of further attacks. But officials said there were no initial plans to upgrade the current threat advisory from "yellow", or elevated, for most of the country.

Newsweek conducted a third and final evening of polling on Friday after details of the tape, first aired on the Arabic network al-Jazeera, were broadcast by American networks. The poll's findings appear to indicate that the president is benefiting during the last days of a bitter campaign from the focus on national security and the "war on terror".

A Reuters/Zogby poll also released yesterday showed Mr Kerry with a wafer-thin 47-46 lead but that was conducted before the bin Laden tape was aired. Other recent polls have given the president a small lead nationally but the final result will be determined by the outcome in about 10 swing states.

Although senior aides insisted that the candidates would not allow the bin Laden tape to overshadow campaigning, Mr Bush and Mr Kerry took fresh swipes at each other over security as they criss-crossed battleground states in last-ditch get-out-the-vote campaigns.

Buoyed by a rapturous rally appearance in Columbus, Ohio, on Friday night alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Terminator star who is now California's governor, Mr Bush contrasted his whatever-it-takes leadership with Mr Kerry's "cut-and-run" approach during a stop in Wisconsin. Mr Kerry, also campaigning in Wisconsin and Ohio, criticised the administration's failure to capture bin Laden in the Tora Bora mountains.



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