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

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Victory '04 Rally in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
East Stroudsburg University
Kochler Fieldhouse
East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania

4:07 P.M. EDT

MRS. BUSH: Thank you all very, very much. Thank you for the very warm welcome. Thank you very much.

And thank you, Commissioner Asure, for your warm welcome to East Stroudsburg. And thanks to every one of you for being here with me, especially during football season. (Applause.)

The President was in Johnstown last week and we were both in Erie and Scranton earlier this month. In fact, we enjoy this state so much, this was our first stop after we left the Republican convention in New York. (Applause.)

Thank you very much to President Robert Dillman, thank you very much, and to the students of the East Stroudsburg University, for hosting us today. (Applause.) I'm really glad to be joined by State Representatives Kelly Lewis and Mario Scavello. Thank you all for being here with me. (Applause.) And also to Jean Craige Pepper, who is running for State Treasurer. Thank you, Jean, for being with us. (Applause.) And special thanks to everybody here from Tobyhanna Army Depot for their work supporting our military and their mission. (Applause.) Thank you all.

And thanks to all the many volunteers who are working hard to ensure that President Bush leads this country for four more years. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

MRS. BUSH: I know that I speak on behalf of everyone from Pennsylvania and all Americans in saying that we're all thinking about the people who are suffering today because of the effects of Hurricane Ivan. Our thoughts and our prayers go especially to those who lost a loved one. The federal government is working closely with the state government to make sure those Gulf Coast states get all the help they need.

And many Americans are checking in with the Red Cross to see if they can do anything to help. So I want to encourage you -- today is a great day to give a contribution to the Red Cross. (Applause.) All of us can find comfort knowing that in times of tragedy, Americans always unite to help each other.

I'm so glad to be here to talk to you all today about why it's 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 cut in history. (Applause.)

Thanks to my husband's commitment to tax relief, America has added 1.7 million jobs since last August '03. (Applause.) The unemployment rate continues to fall and today more families than ever before own their own home. (Applause.) And for the first time in our history, more than half of all minority families own their own homes. I think that's very encouraging. (Applause.)

Thanks to the No Child Left Behind Act, our schools are improving with higher standards, accountability, and the most federal funding ever for elementary and secondary education. (Applause.)

And I have watched as my husband has made the tough decisions that have helped safeguard our children from terror and have helped liberate people from tyranny. (Applause.)

Last week in Ohio, I visited with a woman business owner who summed up the President's success this way. She said, "President Bush was born for such a time such 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 love for our country." (Applause.)

At his 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 between our lives today and the lives of our parents or grandparents.

Today, in most families, both parents are working outside the home all the time. Two thirds of all mothers now work outside the home and more single parents are doing double duty. More entrepreneurs are starting their own businesses, while workers are changing jobs several times during their careers. More people are going back to school to keep up with our changing economy. And we're also living longer.

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

We all 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'll need to be successful in life. And we want our students in high schools to be well prepared, either to go on to college or to join the work force with strong skills in math and science and technology.

For workers who want to go back to school to learn new skills or even to start a new career, the President will work with community colleges to make career training more available for more people. (Applause.) And because higher education is a dream for so many people, he'll make Pell grants available so that many more Americans can earn a college diploma. (Applause.)

And when these graduates get their diploma and 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 that sisterhood just keeps growing. (Applause.)

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

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 allowed people to keep more of their own money and to spend it how they choose." (Applause.)

For business owners like Carol and for our rebounding economy, we must keep taxes low. Already small business owners have each saved an average of $3,000 this year alone. (Applause.) And just in case you don't know, many small businesses are either sole proprietorships or sub-S corporations, and both of these are taxed with regular income tax. So when you talk about tax relief, you're also talking about relief for small business owners. They can use this extra money to invest in their companies, to expand their business and to hire more people. (Applause.)

And because so many people now change jobs several times over their whole career, workers also need health care insurance and retirement accounts that they can take with them. We have the best health care in the world, and my husband believes it's time to put health care in the hands of patients and doctors. (Applause.)

A growing crisis that's of particular concern to families in Pennsylvania is medical liability reform. Recently, I was in Philadelphia 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 children. Shortly into her third pregnancy, Erin's doctor stopped visiting babies because he couldn't afford the medical liability insurance. Erin had to find a new doctor while she was six months pregnant.

Frivolous lawsuits raise the cost of health care insurance and they're driving good doctors out of their practice. To help doctors and women like Erin, President Bush will work to reform the medical liability system and reduce junk lawsuits. (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.)

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

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

We appreciate the dedication of courageous Americans like retired Army Sergeant Harvey Possinger, who is with us today. (Applause.) With 28 medals, Sergeant Possinger is the most decorated World War II veteran. (Applause.)

Thank you, sir, for your service and for your example to our troops today. Thank you very, very much. (Applause.)

And every American also grieves with those who have lost a loved one. And all military families are in the thoughts and the prayers of every American. (Applause.)

As we do the hard work of confronting terror, we can be proud that 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 walk outside their houses without a male escort. And after being denied an education, even the chance to learn to read, the little girls in Afghanistan are now 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. (Applause.)

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 the perfect document by our founders. It took almost 100 years after our founders declared all men are created equal to abolish slavery in America. (Applause.) And not until 84 years ago did American women get the right to vote. (Applause.)

Our nation has not always lived up to its ideals, yet those ideals have never ceased to guide us. We are the beneficiaries of the work of generations before us, and it's our responsibility to continue that work.

My husband knows that there's more to do to make our country safer, stronger and more hopeful. And he'll continue the work of leading America forward while holding true to our timeless ideals. (Applause.)

So I want to encourage you to talk to your neighbors about the President's accomplishments and his plans for a new term. 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 huge help for 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. Thanks so much. May God bless America. Thank you. (Applause.)

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