Double blow for Bush as Clinton opens lead

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The Independent Online
THE RE-ELECTION drive of President George Bush suffered two new blows yesterday, with further signs that economic recovery is spluttering to a virtual halt and a poll suggesting that the surge in popularity he gained from last week's Republican convention may already have evaporated.

A survey conducted on Sunday and Monday by the New York Times and published yesterday once again gives his Democratic opponent, Governor Bill Clinton, a commanding lead of 15 points, more or less the advantage he enjoyed earlier in the summer. A clutch of polls taken immediately after the convention closed last Thursday showed Mr Bush had reduced his deficit to single figures.

According to the poll, voters are far more worried about the nuts-and-bolts issues of jobs, the economy and health care stressed by the Democrats than the 'family values' invoked by the Republicans. Mr Bush's approval rating was 38 per cent, a level from which no incumbent has won a second term.

Durable goods orders, an important measurement of longer-term prospects for economic recovery, fell 3.4 per cent in July - the biggest monthly decline since December. The plunge of the dollar has effectively ruled out a further cut in US interest rates to jolt the economy back into life.

At a press conference yesterday, Mr Bush refused to be more specific about his promise of 'across-the-board' second-term tax cuts which briefly stole the convention headlines and contributed to the dollar's decline. Instead he said the cuts were a 'principle' designed to contrast with the 'liberal tax and spend ways' of Mr Clinton. But the Times poll found an overwhelming yearning for real change. By a margin of nearly four to one, voters believe that Mr Clinton, rather than Mr Bush, is capable of bringing such change.

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