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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
September 17, 2004

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Bush-Cheney '04 Rally in Charleston, West Virginia
Charleston Civic Center
Charleston, West Virginia

9:58 A.M. EDT

MRS. BUSH: Thank you all very, very much. Thanks so much for being here with me today. I really appreciate it.

Thank you, Congressman Capito. Thank you for your leadership in the United States Congress and for your friendship. And I want to remind all of you, when you're working for President Bush, don't forget to reelect Shelley Moore Capito to the United States Congress. (Applause.) Thanks also to State Senator Steve Harrison for being here with me. (Applause.)

And to the Flinn Elementary School girls who led the Pledge of Allegiance. I think some of those girls are probably Girl Scouts or Brownies. My mother was my Girl Scout leader and George's mother, Barbara Bush, was his Cub Scout leader. And, in fact, some say that's when her hair turned white. (Laughter.)

Special thanks to each one of you, to all the volunteers who are working hard to ensure President Bush leads this country for four more years. Thank you all. (Applause.)

I know that I speak on behalf of all the people of West Virginia and all Americans when we say that we're thinking about the people of the Gulf Coast states who are suffering the effects of Hurricane Ivan. Our thoughts and our prayers especially go to those families who lost a loved one. The federal government is working closely with all the state governments to provide them with whatever they need. And many Americans are checking with the Red Cross to see if they can help. So I just want to encourage you -- today is a very good day to give a donation to the Red Cross. We can find comfort in knowing that, in times of tragedy, Americans always united to help each other. (Applause.)

And I'm so happy to be here today to talk to you about why it's so important to reelect President Bush. I've watched as my husband has led this country with strength and conviction through some of the most difficult struggles of our generation. He has taken decisive action to lead us out of recession with the largest tax relief in a generation. (Applause.)

Thanks to my husband's commitment to tax relief, America has added 1.7 million jobs since last August, and that's more jobs than Germany, Japan, England, Canada and France combined. (Applause.)

The unemployment rate here in West Virginia has fallen to 5.1 percent, and to 5.4 percent nationally. (Applause.) And today, more families than ever before -- and I think this is such an encouraging statistic -- own their own homes. In fact, we have the highest home ownership rate in our history. And for the first time, more than half of all minority families own their own homes. (Applause.)

And thanks to the No Child Left Behind Act, our schools are improving with higher standards, accountability and the most federal funding for elementary and secondary education. And I've watched as my husband has made the tough decisions that have helped safeguard our children from terror and have helped liberate millions of people from tyranny.

Last week in Ohio, I visited a woman business owner who summed up the President's success this way. She said, "President Bush was born for such a time as this. He never waivers when it comes to doing the right thing. It makes me feel so secure to know that our leader has such a love for our country." (Applause.)

At our convention in New York, President Bush outlined his agenda for a new term. Helping families face the challenges of our changing world is at the heart of the President's plan. Just think about the differences in our society today and with our parents' and grandparents' generation. Today, in most families, both parents are working full time outside the home. Two-thirds of all mothers now work outside the home. And more single parents are doing double duty alone.

More entrepreneurs are starting their own business while workers are changing jobs several times during their careers rather than going to work for a company and staying there for their whole career. And more people are going back to school to keep up with our changing economy. We're also living longer.

The President believes that government should help people improve their lives, not try to run them. (Applause.)

We know that all opportunity starts with education. We want our children to go to the best schools and we want them to learn the skills they need to be successful in life. And we want our students in high schools to be well prepared to go on to the job market or to go on to college.

President Bush knows that we need to strengthen math and science education in high schools and broaden Internet learning so that young people can compete in our new technology-driven world. For workers who want to go back to school to learn new skills, or even to start a new career, the President wants to work with community colleges to make career training available to all Americans. And because higher education is a dream for so many people, he'll make Pell grants available -- more Pell grants available so that many more Americans can earn a college diploma. (Applause.)

And when these graduates enter the work force, I'm proud to say that a lot of them will go to work for a woman boss. (Applause.) Ten million women own their own business in America, and this sisterhood just keeps growing.

In August, I was in Grafton, Wisconsin, where I met Carol Schneider at her company. Over 30 years ago, Carol started a business in her neighbor's back bedroom, complete with $500 and a barking dog. (Laughter.) It wasn't easy to expand her business, especially when she was going to community college during the day, working full time and raising three children. But Carol refused to give up, and today she manages 100 employees in 14 offices, and she leads a company worth $36 million.

Carol credits the President's commitment to tax relief with enabling her to open four more offices this year. Carol told me, the economy is doing great and it's because President Bush implemented policies that allow people to keep more of their own money and then spend it how they choose. (Applause.)

Small business owners like Carol are some of the hardest working people in America. And the President knows to keep this economy moving, we've got to keep taxes low. (Applause.) Already, small business owners have saved an average of $3,000 this year alone. And just in case you don't know, many small business owners are either sole proprietorships or sub-S corporations and both of these are taxed with regular income taxes. So when you talk about tax relief, you're talking about tax relief for small business owners. They can use this extra money to expand their businesses and hire more people. (Applause.)

And because many people change jobs now several times during their careers, workers also need health care and retirement accounts that they can take with them. We have the best health care in the world, and my husband believes that health care should be in the hands of patients and doctors. (Applause.)

The President is making health care insurance more accessible with new ideas like health savings accounts. These accounts let people buy less expensive catastrophic insurance and then save tax free for routine medical expenses like eyeglasses or a checkup. Workers can then take these accounts with them if they start a new job or if they leave work to raise a family. This is health care that we own, we manage and we keep ourselves.

Another growing crisis that is a particular concern to families and doctors of West Virginia is medical liability reform. (Applause.) Recently, I was in Pennsylvania where I met Erin Zezzo who learned about junk lawsuits the hard way. Erin had a trusting relationship with her OB-GYN, who had delivered her first two babies. Shortly into her third pregnancy, Erin's doctor stopped delivering babies because he couldn't afford the medical liability insurance. Erin had to find a new doctor while she was six months pregnant.

I know there are women just like Erin right here in West Virginia. A number of doctors and nurses are here with us today, and I'm proud to say they're supporting President Bush. (Applause.)

All of these issues are important in our country. But as we grieve for the families in Russia, and as we mark the third anniversary of September 11th, I believe what's most important is my husband's work to protect our country and to defeat terror around the world. (Applause.)

The terrible acts of September 11th showed us the threat they face, but they also called us to the great work of promoting freedom in the far corners of the world. President Bush and I know all of you, too, want our men and women in uniform and their families to know how much we appreciate their service. (Applause.)

As we do the hard work of confronting terror, we can be proud that today 50 million more men, women and children have the chance to live in freedom, thanks to the United States of America and our allies. (Applause.) After years of being treated as virtual prisoners in their homes by the Taliban, the women of Afghanistan are now able to leave their homes without a male escort. (Applause.) And after being denied an education, even the chance to learn to read, little girls in Afghanistan are in school. (Applause.)

More than 10 million Afghan citizens have registered to vote in this fall's presidential election, and more than 40 percent of that number are women. (Applause.)

Because we acted, the people of Iraq are now free from the tyranny of a brutal dictator. The Iraqi Interim Government is preparing for national elections in January, even as they face violence from those who oppose democracy. We pledge to stand with the Iraqi people during this historic time for their nation.

And as we stand with the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, we must remember that building a democracy takes time. Think of how long it took us in our country, even though we were given a perfect document by our founders. It took almost 100 years after our founders declared all men are created equal to abolish slavery in America. And not until 84 years ago did American women get the right to vote.

Our nation has not always lived up to its ideals. Yet those ideals have never ceased to guide us. (Applause.) We are the beneficiaries of the works of generations before us. And it is our responsibility now to continue that work.

President Bush knows that there is more to do to make our country safer, stronger and more hopeful. And he will continue leading the work to make America better, while holding true to our timeless ideals.

So I want to encourage each one of you to talk to your neighbors about the President's accomplishments and about his plans for our future. Reach out to Democrats and Independents who appreciate strong and optimistic leadership. Make sure your friends are registered to vote, and then turn them out at the polls. Everything you do will be a help to the President's campaign.

These are times of change for our nation, but they're also years of promise. We have great confidence in our ability to overcome challenges. We've gained a new appreciation of the many blessings of America. And we've been reminded of the responsibilities we have to the country we love.

George and I grew up in West Texas, where the sky seems endless and so do the possibilities. My husband brings that optimism, that sense of purpose, that certainty that a better day is before us to his job every day. And, with your help, he'll do it for four more years. (Applause.)

Thank you all very, very much. (Applause.) Thank you for your friendship. And my God bless America. (Applause.)

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