This morning Today show viewers woke up to the following from Katie Couric: "Good morning. Up close and personal. With his approval ratings at an all-time low President Bush gets set to take his first ground tour of New Orleans." Co-host David Gregory, subbing for Matt Lauer then piped in: Katie the President is making his third trip this morning to the hurricane zone but it's really it's first detailed look at New Orleans. He, of course, has taken a major political hit through all of this."
Later at 7:04am in a taped segment Kelly O'Donnell piled on as well:
"A less visible part of the damage done by Katrina may be what's happened to the President's approval rating." O'Donnell then threw it to Charlie Cook for his doom and gloom analysis of the President's current standing:
Charlie Cook: "The last vestiges of the strength he got from his handling of 9/11 are gone."
O'Donnell added, before throwing to Cook again: "The President's approval rating sinking to a new low of 38 percent in a poll from Newsweek. And Zogby's latest shows Mr. Bush falling to an all-time low on its survey of 41 percent.
Cook: "The President's numbers were already sliding due to Iraq and gasoline and this just is another big hit." O'Donnell, also seemed to deride the current administration's show of public and financial support for New Orleans as mere PR spin: "To repair perceived damage over the initial federal response Washington is throwing billions at the problems. Plus the administration's top officials have become frequent flyers to the disaster zone and the President has even been the face on smaller details with his how-to-guide on reaching FEMA."
O'Donnell concluded the piece stating the President had a lot on the line with his handling of Katrina as well as the upcoming Supreme Court appointments, followed by some "grim" commentary from Couric and Gregory:
O'Donnell: "And apart from all the urgent loss the President's legacy is on the line as well. Not only in how he's perceived as handling Katrina but also on that major task, filling those two Supreme Court vacancies. David."
Gregory: "Kelly O'Donnell at the White House for us this morning. Kelly thanks very much."
Katie Couric: "Meanwhile you cover the White House. I'm just curious what has the atmosphere been like since Katrina?"
Gregory: "It's, it's really been grim. I mean they realize that this is probably the biggest political crisis they've faced in the President's tenure. I think what they're trying to create now after two weeks is a level of engagement and urgency that the President created after three days, just three days after the 9/11 attacks. It's a major challenge."