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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
May 18, 2004

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Bush-Cheney '04 Rally in Las Vegas, Nevada
Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall
Las Vegas, Nevada

3:13 P.M. PDT

MRS. BUSH: Thank you all so much. I'm so pleased to be here. And thank you very much, Lorraine, for the wonderful introduction. And thank you Wayne Newton for calling us out here on the stage and also for your service to our country as a USO entertainer. Thank you very much for that. (Applause.)

I'm so pleased today to be here in Las Vegas to talk to you about my husband. (Applause.) I want you to know about his positive agenda to make America safer and stronger and better. And I'm really proud to be here to ask you to help us reelect George W. Bush as President. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! (Applause.)

MRS. BUSH: The President and I first traveled together on the campaign trail in 1978, when George was running for Congress. Newly married, we spent the first year of our marriage in a car, driving up and down the panhandle of West Texas. The race didn't turn out as well as we hoped, but we had a great time. Believe me, you learn a lot about your husband when you spend a year traveling in the car with him. (Laughter.) By the end of the campaign, he had even convinced me to vote for him. (Laughter.)

Last week, we took the first bus tours of our last campaign. We had just as much fun as we did back then in 1978. But being on the campaign trail isn't like it used to be. These days, George isn't behind the wheel. (Laughter.)

But we still love meeting people, wonderful men and women like you, who give the President such great support.

When George asked me to marry him, he promised I'd never have to give a political speech. (Laughter.) And I promised I would go jogging with him every day. (Laughter.)

Since then, I've given a lot of speeches but I've never done any jogging. (Laughter.) I guess that makes us even. (Applause.)

I've grown to enjoy giving speeches actually, because they give me a chance to see good friends and new faces. Lorraine Hunt, Nevada's excellent lieutenant governor, thank you for introducing me. (Applause.)

I also want to thank Dema Guinn, the First Lady of Nevada; and Lynnette Boggs McDonald, the Clarke County Commissioner, for being here. (Applause.)

The people of this state are fortunate to have good leaders in Congress. And I'm so pleased to see the wives of two outstanding members here, Dawn Gibbons and Laurie Porter. Thank you all for being here with us. (Applause.)

And I want to congratulate Earlene Forsythe, who was recently elected the Charwoman of the Nevada Republican Party. (Applause.)

You're leading our party in a state that's crucial to the President's reelection. And I'm sure we'll see you a few more times between now and November 2nd. (Applause.)

I've also had the chance backstage to meet with women who are part of our W Stands for Women effort. Over the next five months, they'll be talking to friends and neighbors about the President's achievements on behalf of women in America and around the world. George and I both thank you for your help in this campaign.

I know that you see what I see. The President is a steady leader during these historic times. (Applause.) He's hopeful about the future because he has tremendous confidence in the American people. He has a good and compassionate heart.

When the President took office, he was determined to accomplish great goals on behalf of all Americans. At the time, we couldn't possibly have imagined how challenging the last three years would be. But I've known George Bush for nearly 30 years, and I've known for every second of our time in the White House that the President has the courage and the character to meet the demands of this time. (Applause.)

On taxes and education, on promoting compassion at home and promoting democracy abroad, the President has stood solidly on the side of the people who are working to make life better for themselves and for their neighbors. Thanks to the President's tax relief plan, millions of families are keeping more of their own money and deciding how to use it. (Applause.)

In some families, tax relief means more money to pay the monthly bills. In other families, it means money to start a college savings plan or contribute to a retirement account. For small business owners, tax relief means expanding operations and adding jobs. And for many Americans, tax relief is an opportunity to donate to a local charity. These millions of individual decisions are lifting our economy and improving the lives of people all across our country.

The economy keeps getting better. We've experienced the fastest economic growth in 20 years. (Applause.) The home ownership rate is at an all-time high. And I'm so proud of that fact that more Americans own their own homes now than ever before. (Applause.)

Minority home ownership, in particular, is strong. We set a new record in the first quarter of this year. More than half of all minority families now own their own homes. (Applause.)

And since August, more than a million new jobs have been created. That is one million Americans who are proud to be back on the job, thanks to the President's leadership and our growing economy. (Applause.)

From day one, the President has been a friend to parents and teachers who want to improve America's schools. My husband is so committed to education because he sees our schools the way a parent looks at schools. He wants to make sure that children who are at risk of being left behind get the help they need to be successful students.

The No Child Left Behind Act is bringing more money, higher standards, and stronger accountability to schools throughout America. Now parents are getting more information about their children's school, and children who need extra attention are getting it. (Applause.)

The President and I have spent a lot of time traveling to schools around the country, talking with teachers who devote every day to our children. During these school visits, I've seen the President reading with children, encouraging them as they go through their lessons, talking to them about the importance of going to college. He knows that education policy is not just about passing laws in Washington; it's about giving teachers and parents the tools they need to provide a first-rate education for students all over our country. (Applause.)

In February, I was here in Las Vegas to visit the Advanced Technologies Academy, which is offering students higher level courses and access to the best technology. I met with students who were studying the Russian author Dostoyevsky. Now, that's a tough enough task for most adults. But at the Advanced Technologies Academy, because teachers are setting higher standards, students are achieving more.

We all know that education is a lifelong endeavor. The President recently announced a new plan to double the number of people who get job training through federal grants. The President's plan expands job training partnerships with local businesses, with community colleges, and other private sector organizations.

Whether you're a new high school graduate who needs high-tech training, or a single mom trying to find a better job, or a factory worker who needs to learn new skills, the President's job training proposals will help Americans succeed in the best jobs in the new economy. (Applause.)

My husband has always believed that government can be a force for tremendous good in our society, and he appreciates the great work that's done outside of government by compassionate citizens who recognize needs in their communities and take action to meet them. George and I have seen firsthand the good and generous hearts of the American people.

Compassion and ingenuity are being put to work all over this country to lift up lives. From mentoring the children of prisoners to delivering meals and a few minutes of friendly conversation to elderly neighbors, Americans rise to meet every challenge. And we have a boundless capacity to improve the lives of the people around us.

As we help our neighbors at home, we're also sharing the blessings of liberty with our neighbors abroad. The terrible attacks of September 11th, 2001, showed us the face of evil in the world. But they also called us to the good work of promoting freedom and democracy in the far corners of the globe. Today, 50 million more men, women and children live in freedom thanks to the United States of America and our allies. (Applause.)

From the very night of September 11th, when George and I were reunited at the White House, I have seen his courage and character guide his efforts. The President organized a broad coalition of nations to remove the Taliban from Afghanistan. Al Qaeda's biggest supporters were driven from power and the people of Afghanistan are liberated from their oppressors. (Applause.)

Today, women can walk freely in public without male supervision. (Applause.) Millions of girls are going to school, many for the first time in their lives. And Afghanistan's new constitution protects the rights of all people to vote and speak freely.

In Iraq, the men and women of our military, along with allies from many nations, toppled Saddam Hussein's government and liberated the Iraqi people. (Applause.) Today, they are building a democracy. Iraqis have a new constitution that protects the rights of women as well as ethnic and religious minorities. We must be vigilant in protecting the rights of all Iraqis. The pictures we saw recently from the Abu Ghraib prison do not reflect the character of our troops or the people of the United States of America. (Applause.)

From the beginning of battle to this very hour, the vast majority of our military has conducted themselves with honor and compassion. (Applause.) They are supplying villages with their first taste of clean water. They are delivering medicine and supplies to hospitals and schools. Our troops and their coalition partners have refurbished over 1,000 schools in Iraq, so millions of children can study and learn again.

I'm proud of the men and women in uniform, and my husband for leading this noble cause. (Applause.)

I'm proud of my husband for so many reasons, not least of which is the dignity and respect he shows for every single person he meets -- the same dignity and respect he has for the office he holds. (Applause.)

These are especially challenging times for America, but they're also really hopeful times. In the very midst of these very, very hard months, I think we can look to a wonderful future for the people of Afghanistan and the people of Iraq and the people of the United States of America. (Applause.)

But these are times that require particularly strong and determined leaders. And I'm proud that my husband is that kind of leader. (Applause.)

Thank you all very, very much. Thank you for working to reelect George W. Bush. Thank you for your friendship. May God bless you and may God bless our wonderful country. (Applause.) Thank you all so much. (Applause.)

3:31 P.M. PDT END

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