By Jill Colvin and Julie Shapiro
MANHATTAN — President Barack Obama will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the 9/11 memorial during his visit to Ground Zero Thursday afternoon, the White House has announced.
Following the ceremony, the president will meet privately with victims' family members as well as first responders, the White House said.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg intends to join the president as he returns to New York to follow in the footsteps of the hundreds of people who have streamed to the World Trade Center site since news of Osama bin Laden's death became public on Sunday.
"I think this is a particularly poignant time," Bloomberg said of the president's visit at a press conference Wednesday.
"All of the bad memories have come rushing back to the families of what happened that terrible day, and the rest of us, and the president should be here, meeting with the families," he said.
Some family members began receiving email invitations from the White House to join the president Tuesday night, the New York Post reported.
Bloomberg said the president will also meet with members of the FDNY and NYPD and Port Authority police to "say thank for the country for their sacrifice."
The president's visit comes on the heels of new poll data showing that, in addition to the vigils and celebrations, bin Laden’s death at the hands of American forces in Pakistan has sparked a rebound in the president's popularity.
Immediately after the news was announced, it was clear that Obama would be boosted by the victory. A familiar chant could be heard over the crowd as hundreds of revelers poured into Times Square in the early morning hours Monday to celebrate the news of bin Laden's death.
"O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma!" "Four more years!"
According to the new New York Times/CBS News poll, a majority of those polled — 57 percent — now approve of the president’s performance, up more than 10 points from a month ago.
More than half also said they approve of Obama’s handling of foreign policy and the war in Afghanistan, with 72 percent saying they approve of his handling of the threat of terrorism — a more than 20-point jump.
Nonetheless, while most view the killing as a victory, the death of bin Laden has ushered in new fears. More than 60 percent of those polled said his death would likely increase the threat of terrorism in the country, at least in the short term.
Nearly 70 percent believe another terrorist attack is either very or somewhat likely within the next few months.
Only 16 percent said the death made them feel safer.
Bloomberg tried to calm the fears, saying Wednesday that he feels "as safe today as I did last week."
While the city has ramped up security, "as we do whenever an event takes place around the world that we think heightens concerns," he said that it is "nothing that any individual should worry about."
The president is also set to return to Ground Zero to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, Bloomberg said Tuesday.
The president reportedly also invited former President George W. Bush to join him Thursday, but Bush declined the invitation, citing a desire to stay out of the spotlight, POLITICO reported.
However, the former president is expected to join Obama at the anniversary.