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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
July 12, 2004

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at George Nethercutt for Senate Reception
The Hay Adams
One Lafayette Square

6:25 P.M. EDT

MRS. BUSH: Thank you all very, very much. Thank you, Congressman Nethercutt for that introduction. I'm so happy to be here tonight, I'm so happy to be here to support your candidacy for United States Senate from Washington State. And I'm so glad that Congresswoman Dunn and Congressman Hastings joined us here tonight.

Thank all of you, everyone out here for coming, and special thanks to everyone who came all the way from Washington State, who's working on the campaign for Congressman Nethercutt for Senate. And a lot of you, I know, are also working on my husband's campaign, and I want to thank you very much for that.

I'm so happy to see Mary Beth. Mary Beth and I have a lot in common. We're both committed to finding a cure for breast cancer, we campaigned with our husbands for Congress, and we both know what it's like to raise teenagers. (Laughter.) You've done a really great job with Meredith and Elliott, and I'm so glad that they are here with us tonight.

My husband's first campaign was a race for Congress in West Texas in 1978. Newly married, we spent most of our time in the car, driving up and down the panhandle of West Texas. The race didn't turn out quite as we hoped, but we had a great time. And, believe me, you learn a lot about your husband when you spend that much time in a car with him. (Laughter.)

President Bush sends his very best regards to all of you, and he also thanks you for supporting Congressman George Nethercutt for the United States Senate. He wants you to know how vitally important it is to have a strong team in Washington State led by Senator George Nethercutt. (Applause.)

All of you know Congressman Nethercutt is a devoted father, a hardworking public servant, and an experienced leader. He'll always listen to a question or a concern and you can count on George Nethercutt to speak his mind. That's what Mary Beth told me. (Laughter.)

Here in D.C., we know Congressman Nethercutt as a principled, skilled legislator, who is not afraid to reach across the aisle to get things done. He's respected by his colleagues in both parties. From supporting tax relief to increasing funding for diabetes research, Congressman Nethercutt has spent a lifetime working on issues that matter to the people in his home state. He understands the priorities of Washington State and he'll continue to make sure that your voice is heard in Congress. And that's why it's so important to elect George Nethercutt to the United States Senate.

President Bush and Congressman Nethercutt are working hard to keep America strong and safe. Over the last three years, our country has faced some of the toughest challenges in our history. I've watched as President Bush has led our country with compassion and conviction. President Bush has been a steady and determined leader as he has made the most difficult decision any President can make, and that's to send young Americans to war to protect our national security and to defend the cause of freedom. And President Bush is grateful to have leaders like George Nethercutt to stand by his side during these very difficult times.

Congressman Nethercutt knows that we must defend our homeland and the peace of free people around the world. George has been to Iraq and he understands the challenges facing our country and the military. As a leader on the Defense Appropriations Committee, he increased defense spending by 40 percent, reversing the devastating cuts from a decade ago. He supported greater pay for training for our troops and he secured millions of dollars to modernize Fairchild Air Force Base. And he's working with Secretary Ridge and the Department of Homeland Security to strengthen Washington's ports from terrorist attacks.

September 11th was a defining moment for all of us. We'll never forget the bravery of our fellow Americans or the spirit of unity that spread across our country. And since that fateful day, I've watched as President Bush's leadership has made not only the world safer but also people's lives better. (Applause.)

Thanks to my husband's decisions and America's actions, 50 million people are free from tyranny and oppression. 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 without male supervision. And if they didn't have a male relative -- and many didn't because they were widowed from long years of wars -- they were forced to beg because they were forbidden to go to school or to work.

Now the people of Afghanistan have new leaders, new freedoms, and a constitution guaranteeing the rights of women. And millions of girls are in school in Afghanistan, many for the first time in their lives.

And thanks to America's actions, the people of Iraq are free from the tyranny and torture of Saddam Hussein. We're now seeing great progress in Iraq's transition to democracy. The new Iraqi Interim Government assumed the responsibility for the citizens of Iraq. They're now making decisions about the economy, security and other issues important to their fellow citizens. And Saddam Hussein will be put on trial to face justice for his atrocities.

Thanks to a unanimous vote in the United Nations Security Council, the new Iraqi government has the full support of the international community. We pledge to stand with the Iraqi people at this historic and hopeful time for their nation.

We still face many challenges every day. But we know that there's no safe alternative to resolute action. The defeat of violence and terror in Iraq is vital to the defeat of violence and terror around the world.

A strong economy is also essential to our security. And President Bush needs Congressman Nethercutt's leadership in the Senate to help make tax relief permanent. George Nethercutt was recently named "Hero of the Taxpayer" for defending tax cuts for Washington's families and businesses. George's strong support for this economic stimulus plan is enabling millions of families to keep more of their own money.

For many families, tax relief means money to pay the monthly bills, to start a college savings plan for their children, or to save for their own retirement. For small business owners, tax relief means expanding the operations of their business and the ability to hire more employees.

These millions of individual decisions that people are making with their own money are lifting our economy and improving the lives of people around the country.

And the economy just keeps getting better. We're experiencing the fastest economic growth in 20 years. The home ownership rate is at its highest level ever. Minority home ownership is particularly strong, and I'm proud that we've set a new record in the first quarter of this year. Now more than half of all minority families own their own homes. And since August, more than 1.5 million new jobs have been created around our country.

To keep our economy strong, George Nethercutt knows that we must expand trade opportunities around the world for America's goods. He led the effort to open up $7 billion in new export opportunities for Washington products.

President Bush believes that American workers are the best in the world and that, when given a level playing field, we can compete against workers anywhere. The President has negotiated trade agreements that reduce foreign tariffs and trade barriers and he is providing more resources to educate and equip American workers with the skills to meet the demands of an ever-changing work force.

President Bush also knows how vitally important it is that every child in America receives an excellent education. Congressman Nethercutt knows that this is the single most important responsibility we have. He supports the No Child Left Behind Act which provides more federal money for schools than ever before, and higher standards for our children and teachers. George Nethercutt also increased grant funding and job training to help more Washington students go to college.

Congressman Nethercutt has always been a great advocate for children. As a family attorney, he helped hundreds of parents adopt children. And as a father of a child with diabetes, he has increased funding for research and treatment of this disease for millions of Americans. He even started the Diabetes Caucus on the Hill in honor of his daughter, Meredith.

Like President Bush, Congressman Nethercutt knows that reliable health care is fundamental to our economic security. No one can feel confident about the future if they feel that the next illness they have might wipe out their savings or drive them into debt. That's why President Bush is taking action to make health care more affordable and more accessible to millions of Americans. He worked with Congressman Nethercutt in Congress to add a prescription drug benefit to Medicare to help seniors afford their medicines. He is expanding health insurance options for Americans and promoting new ideas like health savings accounts.

And Congressman Nethercutt supports the President's plan to reform the medical liability system to reduce junk lawsuits. (Applause.) These junk lawsuits drive up the cost of medicine and they drive good doctors out of their practice.

I know that you're here today because, like Congressman Nethercutt, you believe that every child deserves to grow up healthy and safe. And you believe that every American deserves an excellent education. And you believe that we can help secure peace and freedom in the world. And you believe that through acts of faith and love, we can build a more compassionate America.

President Bush and Congressman Nethercutt share your beliefs and they will continue to make them their priorities as they strive to build a stronger America. Congressman Nethercutt will work with President Bush to keep our children and families safe, so that we can live in a world free from terror. And he will work with the President to make our country a more compassionate nation, where neighbors help neighbors in need. I know that's the Washington State way.

When you leave here today, redouble your efforts to elect George Nethercutt to the United States Senate. I urge you to work in the months ahead, talk to your friends and make sure your neighbors vote. Remember that every single vote matters, and every vote for Congressman Nethercutt is a vote for a better and stronger America. (Applause.)

The people of Washington State are electing someone who will represent their hopes and dreams in our nation's capital, someone who will uphold the strong character of the people of Washington State. Congressman Nethercutt serves the people of Washington State with integrity and conviction, and these are values we need in the United States Senate.

Please join President Bush and me in supporting Congressman Nethercutt for the United States Senate. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

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