A new poll shows the controversy surrounding President Bush's handling of the terrorism threat before the September 11 attacks has hurt his ratings on that issue.

The Newsweek poll finds that 57 percent of U.S. voters approve Mr. Bush's handling of terrorism, down from 70 percent two months ago.

But 65 percent of respondents say their opinion of Mr. Bush was not changed by the claims of former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke, who charged that President Bush did not treat terrorism as an urgent issue before the attack.

The poll also found that despite the setbacks, President Bush's likely democratic challenger, Senator John Kerry, has not capitalized on the controversy. The survey says the two remain locked in a statistical dead heat. Mr. Bush's overall approval rating remains unchanged at 49 percent.

Top Bush administration officials, including Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice, will go on national television talk shows on Sunday to defend President Bush's handling of terrorism and homeland security prior to the attacks.

Mr. Clarke will also appear on several shows to repeat his assertions.

Some information for this report provided by AP.