(CNN) - More than two-thirds of Americans approve of President Obama's job performance during his initial days in the White House, an approval rating that significantly exceeds the early poll numbers of his two immediate predecessors.
The new survey by Gallup - the first conducted entirely after Obama took the oath of office Tuesday - found 68 percent of Americans approve of how the new president is handling the job. Meanwhile, only 12 percent of Americans disapprove of Obama's job performance so far.
Watch: Obama's first 100 hours
It's not unusual for new presidents to enter the White House with a high approval rating, but Obama's is markedly higher than the initial approval number of both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
According to Gallup, Bush began his initial days as president with a 57 percent approval rating while Bill Clinton kicked off his first term with a 58 percent rating.
Meanwhile, Clinton faced an initial disapproval rating of 20 percent while Bush - who had only secured the presidency after a protracted and divisive recount in Florida - faced an initial disapproval rating of 25 percent.
But the percentage of Americans who approve of Obama's first days in office isn't unprecedented. John F. Kennedy began his term with a 72 percent approval rating while Jimmy Carter and Dwight Eisenhower had early approvals in the high sixties.
Watch: Ed Henry reports on the pressure Obama faces
Still, Obama's 68 percent approval rating is lower than the 84 percent of Americans who, in a recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, said they approved of how the then-president-elect was handling his transition.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Shortly after President Barack Obama painted a bleak economic picture Saturday in his weekly address to the nation, he met with with his economic team to talk strategy and the national budget.
Watch: Obama's weekly radio address
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement that the Saturday session included Larry Summers, director of the Economic Policy Council, and Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget, along with other staff members.
Earlier: Obama paints bleak economic picture
Gibbs did not reveal details of the meeting, except to say that the focus was on "the week's developments on the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment plan and proposals going forward including the budget."
It remains to be seen how much of a role President Obama will allow Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and House Republican Leader John Boehner to play in the economic stimulus package, CNN's Ed Henry reports. (Getty Images)
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new national poll suggests that six in ten Americans sympathize more with the Israelis than the Palestinians in the recent fighting in Gaza, and most believe that Israel's initial decision to take military action against Hamas was justified.
Sixty percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Saturday say they sympathize with Israelis, with 17 percent backing the Palestinians.
The poll was conducted while Israel was still taking military action in Gaza, so it does not reflect how Americans feel about the recent cease-fire in Gaza. But 63 percent of those questioned do think that Israel's initial military action was justified, with three in ten saying it was not justified.
Earlier: Rival factions trade accusations of spying, violence in Gaza
"Republicans are most likely to see Israel's military action as justified. Three-quarters of GOP respondents felt that way," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "But even among Democrats, 52 percent felt Israel was justified compared to 40 percent who felt the action in Gaza was unjustified."
Forty-three percent think the amount of military force used by Israel was about right, with 38 percent saying it was too much and 14 percent feeling it was too little.
Israel announced Wednesday that it completed the withdrawal of its troops from Gaza after a three-week military campaign against Hamas, which rules the territory. Israel said it had achieved its goals, which were to halt the firing of rockets into southern Israel from Gaza.
Earlier: Obama: U.S. will actively seek Middle East peace
But Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that's controlled the territory since 2007, also declared victory. More than 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed in the fighting, according to authorities on both sides, since the conflict began in late December.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted January 12-15, with 1,245 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
(CNN) - Just days before he was sworn in, President Obama was giving his daughters a tour of the Lincoln Memorial when one of them pointed to a copy of Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address carved into the wall.
Obama's 7-year-old daughter, Sasha, told her father that Lincoln's speech was really long. Would he have to give a speech as long? Obama's answer was completed by his older daughter, 10-year-old Malia.
"I said, 'Actually, that one is pretty short. Mine may even be a little longer,' " Obama told CNN recently. "At which point, Malia turns to me and says, 'First African-American president, better be good.' "
The story is light-hearted, but it touches on a delicate question: Will people hold Obama to a different standard because he is the first African-American president?
WASHINGTON (CNN) – They’ve been in the White House less than a week, but the first daughters have already been co-opted by marketers — and Michelle Obama isn’t happy about it.
Ty, the toy company responsible for the popular Beanie Babies dolls, is now marketing “Sweet Sasha” and “Marvelous Malia” dolls.
The first lady’s office said Friday Ty was out of line. “We feel it is inappropriate to use young private citizens for marketing purposes,” said a spokeswoman for Michelle Obama in a statement.
A Ty representative told CNN the company generally avoids naming dolls for “any particular living individual,” because doing so might interfere with how kids use their imaginations to play with them. But they wouldn’t reveal the source of their inspiration for the new figures, telling CNN that information relating to the development of the company’s merchandise - including how it comes up with products, product names, and trademarks – is proprietary.
Related video: First lady miffed by 'Malia,' 'Sasha' dolls
–CNN White House Producer Becky Brittain contributed to this report.
Is the veneer of bipartisanship wearing thin over billions for an economic stimulus? CNN's Brianna Keilar reports. (Getty Images)
Related: Obama paints bleak economic picture, to meet with team
(CNN) – Prominent Chicago defense lawyer Ed Genson said Friday he intends to resign as attorney for embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich in the criminal case against the governor.
"I never require a client to do what I say but I do require them to at least listen to what I say. ... I wish the governor good luck and godspeed," Genson said in brief remarks to reporters.
Genson would not elaborate on his reasons for withdrawing from the case or any conversations he had with Blagojevich about his leaving the case.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama painted a bleak economic picture of the country Saturday, hours before he will meet with his economic team.
"We begin this year and this administration in the midst of an unprecedented crisis that calls for unprecedented action," he said in his weekly radio and Internet address.
"Just this week, we saw more people file for unemployment than at any time in the last 26 years, and experts agree that if nothing is done, the unemployment rate could reach double digits," Obama said.
The president pleaded for urgent action, saying, "if we do not act boldly and swiftly, a bad situation could become dramatically worse."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Security experts are questioning information released by the Pentagon last week, saying 61 former detainees from its detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, may have returned to terrorist activities.
The report, released days before President Obama took office, says 18 former detainees are confirmed to have participated in attacks, and 43 are suspected to have been involved in attacks.
That figure would be about 11 percent of the roughly 520 prisoners that have been released from Guantanamo, which Obama on Thursday ordered be shut down.