- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 22, 2001

President Bush called on the nation to destroy terrorism in his speech Thursday, and by all accounts, the nation responded yesterday with resounding approval.

"The president, by everybody's mind, did a great job last night," said Paul Pacelli, news director and co-host of the morning talk show on WELI-AM in New Haven, Conn.

"The reaction on the morning show was very good, very solid," said Mr. Pacelli. "We didn't get one single negative call. People were pleased with the entire speech."

The Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune declared the president's address before a joint session of Congress "the speech of his life."

"His tone was elevated; his points were on the mark. He spoke of courage and endurance, patience and love. He reassured the American people that the state of the union is strong . It was just what the nation needed to hear," said yesterday's editorial.

An NBC News survey found that 90 percent of those who listened to Mr. Bush's address before the joint session supported his handling of the terrorism crisis.

That number fell to 68 percent among those who missed the president's speech.

The survey of 513 persons, conducted by Democratic pollster Peter Hart and Republican Robert Teeter, also showed that 95 percent of those who saw the president's speech reacted "very" or "fairly" favorably to his remarks.

"He's direct, he's confident, he's generating excitement for the American people, and he's got a certain charisma I haven't seen since JFK," said Brian Hegna, a Vietnam veteran from Denver.

Indeed, many people praised not only the substance of Mr. Bush's speech but also his speaking style, which had previously been considered one of his weaknesses.

"A lot of people alluded to the fact that he's been bashed in the past for not being a good speaker and felt that with this speech he had turned around a lot," said Scott Taylor, host of "Morning Drive" on WPZZ-AM in Indianapolis.

"People said, 'That may be one of the all-time great speeches,'" said Mr. Taylor.

In Detroit, calls about the president's address to the talk shows at WKRK-FM were "nonstop," said Program Director Terry Lieberman.

"The feeling was it was a great speech, great as far as morale goes and as far as galvanizing people," said Mr. Lieberman. "A lot of people who didn't feel as positive about President Bush before were very positive about his speech. They would say, 'I didn't support him,' or 'I didn't vote for him, but I support what he's doing.'"

Tahnita Clayton, who works for a customs brokerage firm in Los Angeles, said she was still worried about the prospect of war, but that she appreciated Mr. Bush's methodical, deliberate approach.

"So far I feel like we're in good hands. He's not jumping to conclusions," said Miss Clayton. "I'm glad he's taking his time."

The St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times praised Mr. Bush for his healing words and urged Congress to support his agenda.

"The president's inspirational words lifted a grieving nation's spirits," an editorial in yesterday's editions said.

"President Bush set the right priorities Thursday night," said the editorial. "The rest of his administration, along with members of Congress who were listening, should follow his lead."

One of the few negative currents that emerged from the post-speech commentary was Mr. Bush's decision to appoint Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge to a newly created Cabinet-level post in charge of homeland security.

"People were saying 'Do we need another Cabinet secretary?' because a lot of our listenership is conservative and says we already have enough government," said Mr. Taylor.

Some callers also took swipes at Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, for what they described as her irreverent demeanor during the president's speech.

"A lot of people called and bashed Hillary, saying that all she did was laugh, talk and roll her eyes," said Mr. Taylor.

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