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Obama Travels with Strong Support at Home


President Barack Obama is making his debut on the world stage this week and the trip comes at a time when the president continues to enjoy generally strong support at home.

As world leaders take their measure of the new American president, they will surely take into account what appears to be strong domestic support for Mr. Obama.

Recent public opinion polls show the president's approval rating generally above 60 percent, down only slightly from the time of his inauguration in January.

The latest national survey by Quinnipiac University in Connecticut shows Mr. Obama's approval rating at 58 percent, with 31 percent disapproving.

Peter Brown is with the Quinnipiac Polling Institute.

"Now the question is how that number will fare as time goes on, especially if the economy doesn't recover quickly," Brown said. "But at this point, Americans are willing to give President Obama the benefit of the doubt, and you can see it through a number of the questions we asked."

There is no question that fixing the economy remains the president's top priority. It is a theme that Mr. Obama has been quick to emphasize on his trip overseas as well.

"We have to do what is necessary to restore growth and to pursue the reforms that can stabilize our financial system well into the future," Mr. Obama said.

During last year's presidential campaign, Mr. Obama gained a reputation for being a persuasive and gifted speaker.

It is a talent he has brought to bear as president, says Republican Ken Duberstein, a former chief of staff for President Ronald Reagan.

"You have seen him continue to travel all over America, you have seen him hold town hall meetings, and you have seen him do an awful lot of television and radio," Duberstein said. "That is fundamentally without any filters - speak directly to the American people and continue to get their support and also their patience."

But opposition Republicans are trying to get their message out as well, especially their objections to the administration's massive budget plan.

Paul Ryan is a Republican Representative from Wisconsin:

"We believe that the president's budget makes our fiscal crisis much, much worse," Ryan said. "Rather than getting spending under control, it sends spending out of control."

But so far, the Republican arguments seem to be winning over only fellow Republicans, says pollster Peter Brown.

"Only slightly more than one in four voters have a positive or favorable opinion of the Republican Party," Brown said. "That is very bad news for the Republicans and clearly, at this point, they are not part of the calculation for many voters."

Experts say that could change if the administration does not begin to show tangible progress on the stagnant U.S. economy.

Former Reagan aide Ken Duberstein says now, though, Americans seem to be rooting for President Obama to succeed.

"The American people want instantaneous results, and I think this is going to take a long time and the American people are going to have to have patience," Duberstein said. "The question is, 'How long will the American people buy into Obama's positions, his solutions, to give him a chance to succeed?'"

There was also good news in one of the latest polls for First Lady Michelle Obama. An ABC News -Washington Post poll found that her approval rating has soared to 72 percent, up from only 48 percent last June during the presidential campaign.


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