The American public viewed President George W. Bush more favorably after Hurricane Rita than in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, according to a new poll released on Friday.
Seventy-percent of those polled said they approved of Bush's response to Rita, which hit the Texas-Louisiana coast last Saturday, while only 40 percent said they approved of his handling of Katrina, which slammed the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, the USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup poll showed.
Prompt preparations for Rita contributed to Bush's overall job-approval rating, rising to 45 percent from 40 percent a week and a half ago. His disapproval rating, meanwhile, dropped to 50 percent from 58 percent a week and a half ago, the worst of his presidency.
The administration was under severe criticism for a sluggish response after Katrina hit Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The hurricane killed more than 1,100 people and left many others homeless, forcing Federal Emergency Administration Agency chief Michael Brown to resign.
Faced with public discontent over the Iraq war and high gasoline prices, Bush's approval rating has been below 50 percent for about five months.
The survey of 1,007 adults was conducted Monday through Wednesday and has an error margin of plus or minus three percentage points.