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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
March 29, 2004
Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Kilmer for Congress Luncheon
University Center Club
12:50 P.M. EST
MRS. BUSH: Thank you all very much. Thank you, Bev. Thank you for inviting me to Tallahassee to be with you. I'm so glad to be with all of you here in Florida. I want to thank Representative Baker for leading us in the Pledge. And just in case the press doesn't know in the back, he just returned from serving in Iraq. So he serves your state in the Florida House and he serves our country in the United States military, and I'm very, very grateful. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
There are other elected officials here that I also want to thank. Thank you all for your hard work for your state and for our country. I want to thank all the people here who work on the campaigns of these elected officials, including my husband's campaign. Thank you all for your hard work and for your friendship. And thanks for coming out today to support Bev.
George and I were in Orlando just a couple of weeks ago for the first Presidential rally for the 2004 campaign. I hope some of you were there; I think you probably were. But you know that that rally was very inspirational with red, white and blue balloons and confetti and patriotic music. And I'll have to say, my heart swelled with pride when I heard the Star Spangled Banner.
We all know that feeling, that great feeling that we all get because we love our country. And that's why we're here today, to help elect people who will keep our country strong. And that's exactly what Bev Kilmer will do in the United States Congress. (Applause.)
All of you know Bev as a hardworking public servant, a mother and a grandmother, and an experienced leader, deeply devoted to serving the people of northwest Florida. She'll always listen to a question or a concern, and you can count on Bev to speak her mind. That's what her husband, Larry, told me. (Laughter.)
In the state capital, Bev is known as a principled, skilled legislator who puts people before politics. And she is respected by colleagues in both parties, and she's not afraid to reach across the aisle to get things done. Bev is a very strong supporter of Florida's farmers, small business owners and seniors. And she'll represent their views in Washington.
From supporting the largest tax cut in Florida's history, to securing health care for uninsured children, Bev has been an advocate for the people of Florida. She understands your priorities and she'll make sure your voice is heard in Washington. And that's why it's so important to elect Bev Kilmer to the United States Congress. (Applause.)
President Bush sends his very best regards to all of you and his very best wishes for success to Bev. President Bush is working hard to keep our country strong and safe. Over the last three years, our country has faced some of the toughest challenges in our history, and I've watched as our President has led our country with compassion and conviction. President Bush has been steady and determined as he has made the most difficult decision any President can make, and that's to send Americans to war to protect our national security, and to defend the cause of freedom. And President Bush is grateful to have leaders like Bev Kilmer to stand by his side during these difficult times.
Bev knows that we must defend our homeland and the peace of free people around the world. September 11th was the defining moment for all of us. We'll never forget the bravery of our fellow Americans or the spirit of unity that spread over our country. And since that fateful day, I've watched as the President's leadership has not only made our world safer, but has also made people's lives better.
Thanks to my husband's decisions and America's actions, 50 million people are free from tyranny and oppression. (Applause.) Consider the women and girls of Afghanistan. During the long years of the Taliban regime, they were virtual prisoners in their homes, unable to leave their home without a male relative. And if they didn't have a male relative, they were actually forced to have to beg, because they were outlawed from going to school or to work.
Now the people of Afghanistan have new leaders, new freedoms and a constitution guaranteeing the rights of women. And thanks to my husband's leadership and America's actions, the people of Iraq are free from the tyranny and the torture of Saddam Hussein and today they are building a free and democratic society.
We still face many challenges. Terrorists commit acts of hate in the hopes that we will abandon the Afghan and the Iraqi people. But America's resolve is strong. We know that the work of building a democracy isn't easy, but we know it's always right. We know this from our own history and from the history of other emerging democracies. For more than 200 years, dedicated Americans have worked to fulfill the promise of our democracy and today our work to strengthen America continues.
President Bush is taking the steps to strengthen our economy and he needs Bev's leadership to help make tax relief permanent. The President's tax cuts have put money back in people's pockets and we're beginning to see real results. Economic growth is at a 20-year high and home ownership is at the highest ever.
Bev is a leader on the Appropriations and Finance and Taxation Committees. She organized Opportunity Florida to create jobs and expand economic development. She understands that when families keep more of their own money, they can make their own decisions. And their decisions help strengthen our economy and improve the lives of people across the country. (Applause.)
Our economy is in a period of great change. Increases in productivity, advances in technology and competition from foreign countries requires us to educate and equip workers with the new skills of the future.
For our work force to succeed, we must ensure that every child receives an excellent education. (Applause.) This morning, I spoke to the National Association of School Boards, the school board members from across the United States, who are meeting in Orlando for their annual meeting. And it was really a pleasure to see people, all these people who volunteer, who run for school board, and then who serve their communities. And I know there are people in this room who have run for school board and you know what a very difficult job it is, but what a very important job it is. And I was excited to be there today to talk about the No Child Left Behind Act and the real results that we're starting to see across the country because school districts and states are focusing on making sure children learn how to read and do better in school.
Bev's experience as chairman of the Committee on Education will be vital in Congress. Like President Bush, Bev believes that providing a quality education for our children is the single most important responsibility we have. She supports No Child Left Behind, which provides more money for our schools and higher standards for our children and teachers. In the legislature, Bev secured over $3 billion in additional funding for Florida's public schools. She established a teacher's advisory council and increased teacher quality and pay.
I know that you're here today because, like Bev, you believe that every American deserves the opportunity and education so they can achieve their dreams. And you believe that we can help secure peace in the world. You believe that through acts of faith and love, we can build a more compassionate America.
President Bush and Bev Kilmer share your beliefs and they will continue to make them their priorities as they strive to build a stronger America. Bev will work with President Bush to strengthen our national security, our homeland security and our economic security. She will work with the President to make America stronger and to keep our children and families safe so we can live in a world free from terror. And Bev will work with the President to make our country a more compassionate nation, where neighbors help neighbors in need.
I know that's the Florida way for neighbors to help a neighbor in need. And I also know that in this room are many, many people who work for your neighbors in your cities or in your state or in our country, and I want to thank each one of you for that.
When you leave here today, I hope you'll go to work to elect Bev Kilmer. I urge you to redouble your efforts in the months ahead. Talk to your friends, make sure your neighbors vote. Do everything you can to send Bev to the United States Congress. Remember that every single vote matters, and every vote for Bev is a vote for a better and stronger America.
This election is important to the President and to our country, but most of all it's important to you, because you're electing someone who will represent your hopes and dreams in our nation's capital and someone who will uphold the strong character of the people of this state. Bev serves the people of northwest Florida with integrity, compassion and conviction. And these are the qualities we need in the United States Congress.
Please join President Bush and me in supporting Bev Kilmer for Congress. Thank you all very, very much. (Applause.)