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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
September 30, 2004
Mrs. Bush's Remarks at David Vitter for Senate Luncheon
The Petroleum Club of Shreveport
11:35 A.M. CDT
MRS. BUSH: Thank you. Thanks so much for being here for Congressman Vitter. And that was a very nice introduction he gave. I think it's the first time I've been introduced by telephone. (Laughter.)
I'm so glad to be here to make sure Congressman Vitter is elected to represent the great state of Louisiana in the United States Senate. (Applause.)
Special thanks to every one of you here, who are working so hard to make sure Congressman Vitter is elected as your next senator. I know that many of you are also working hard on my husband's campaign, and President Bush and I appreciate that very, very much. (Applause.) The President sends his very best regards, and he also thanks you for supporting David Vitter.
I'm so glad that Wendy is here with me today. Wendy and I both have a lot in common. We're both committed to finding a cure for breast cancer, we've campaigned with our husbands for Congress, and we both know what it's like to raise twins. (Laughter.) I'm just farther along in that than Wendy. (Laughter.)
All of you know Congressman Vitter as a devoted father, as a hardworking public servant, and as an experienced leader. He'll always listen to a question or a concern, and you can count on David to speak his mind. That's what Wendy told me. (Laughter.)
In Washington, we know Congressman Vitter as a principled, skilled legislator, who is not afraid to reach across the aisle to get things done for the people of Louisiana. From tax relief, to education reform, to securing millions for the cleanup of Lake Pontchartrain, David works on issues that matter to the families and the workers of Louisiana. And President Bush and I are grateful to have David as a friend.
I'm so proud of my husband and the way he has led our country with strength and conviction through the greatest struggle of our generation. And the President is grateful to have leaders like Congressman Vitter to stand by his side during these challenging times. (Applause.)
President Bush has taken decisive action to lead us out of recession with the largest tax relief in a generation. And Congressman Vitter supported doubling the child credit, reducing the marriage penalty, and putting the estate tax on the road to extinction. (Applause.)
My husband worked with David and other leaders in Congress to improve our schools with higher standards, accountability, and the most funding -- federal funding ever for elementary and secondary education. Thanks to the No Child Left Behind Act, more children are reading at grade level, scores in math are improving, and students in Louisiana and across the country are closing the achievement gap. We owe much of this success to America's incredible teachers. (Applause.)
In a new term, my husband wants to make sure that teachers who choose to work in low-income schools and those who are working hard to close the achievement gap are rewarded some way with extra compensation. And David supports the recruitment efforts to bring 10,000 much-needed new teachers to our classrooms.
President Bush relied on David's support as he made the most difficult decision any President ever has to make, and that's to send troops to war to safeguard our country from terror.
We've been through a lot together these last four years, and these are also times of change that require new ideas to move America forward. Just think about the differences in our lives today and the lives of our parents or grandparents. Today in most families, both parents are working outside of the home, including two-thirds of all mothers. And more single parents are doing double duty alone. More entrepreneurs are starting their own businesses. Workers are changing jobs often during their whole careers, rather than going to work for one company and staying there for a lifetime. And more people are going back to school to keep up with our changing economy.
President Bush and Congressman Vitter are committed to helping families face the challenges of our changing world. David knows that good jobs and a skilled work force are vital to Louisiana's economy, and he supports the President's plan to strengthen math and science education, to expand Internet learning in our high schools so that graduates are prepared to compete in our changing economy. And David will work with President Bush to make it easier for workers to attend local community colleges so they can learn new job skills or even start a new career.
And because higher education is a lifelong dream for so many, the President wants more Pell grants to be available so that more Americans can get a college diploma. (Applause.)
Our graduates and workers need an economy with abundant opportunity, one in which businesses are growing and creating jobs. This requires making America the best place in the world to do business. David will work with the President to reform our federal tax code and to reduce frivolous lawsuits that drive up the cost of business and health care for all Americans. (Applause.)
And George and Congressman Vitter know that another important issue for Louisiana families and for our whole country is affordable health care. Because now so many people change jobs several times during their careers, workers need health care insurance that they can take with them. President Bush is making health care more affordable with ideas like health savings accounts. These plans allow you to save tax free for routine health care expenses in accounts that you control, that you own and that you can take with you from job to job. In other words, you can buy less expensive insurance with a high deductible and then save the amount of your deductible in your health savings account, and end up with better health care and your own health savings account. (Applause.)
And my husband will make sure that patients and doctors are in charge of health care, not bureaucrats in Washington. (Applause.) George and David Vitter believe that government should try to help people improve their lives, not try to run them. (Applause.)
All of these issues are important to our country. But as we mark the third anniversary of September 11th, I believe that what's most important is our work to protect our country and to defeat terror around the world. (Applause.)
For all Americans, September 11th was a defining moment. We'll never forget the bravery of our fellow Americans or the spirit of unity that spread across our country. And we'll never forget the courage of our military men and women or the dedication of their families.
As the leader on the Military Construction Appropriations Committee, David knows that defending our freedom is the most important responsibility we have. David has been a leader in securing more than $48 million in funding for Barksdale Air Force Base. (Applause.) And he'll continue to make supporting and strengthening our military his top priority in the United States Senate.
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 free to walk outside without a male escort, and the little girls of Afghanistan, who were forbidden to be educated, are now in school. (Applause.) Next week, more than 10.5 million Afghans, including 4 million women, will vote in their first free election in the history of their country. (Applause.)
And because we acted, the people of Iraq are free from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. President Bush met with Iraq's new leader, Prime Minister Allawi, at the White House last week. Prime Minister Allawi said that the Iraqi people are determined to exercise their right to vote this January, even as they face violence from those who oppose democracy. These acts are grim reminders of why our work to defeat terror and to support free societies in the Middle East is so important.
We still have hard work to do, but we'll stand with the people of Iraq and Afghanistan while they build free countries. (Applause.)
We must remember that building a democracy takes time. Think of how long it took us in our country. It took almost 100 years after our founders declared that all men are created equal to abolish slavery in America -- and not until 84 years ago did American women get the right to vote.
We know that it's possible to build a democracy, and we see the great examples of all the Central European countries that were once part of the Soviet Union. They now have 11- and 12-year-old democracies, so we know it can also happen in the Middle East.
President Bush and Congressman Vitter will work to make our country safer and stronger and more hopeful for all Americans. (Applause.)
When you leave here today, redouble your efforts to reelect David Vitter -- or elect him to the United States Senate. And while you're at it -- (laughter) -- talk to your neighbors and your friends about the President's accomplishments and his plans for a new term. (Applause.)
Reach out to Democrats and Independents who appreciate strong and optimistic leadership. Make sure your friends are all registered to vote, and then make sure they turn out at the polls. Everything you do to help will be great for the President's and David's campaign.
And tonight, at the first debate in Miami, the American people will see the strong and decisive man I've been married to for 27 years -- (applause) -- a man who says what he means and does what he says. That's the kind of leader David Vitter is as well. Congressman Vitter will serve the people of Louisiana with integrity and conviction, and these are values we need in the United States Senate.
In the next few weeks, do everything you can to ensure David Vitter represents you as senator from the great state of Louisiana. Thank you all very much for your friendship. Thank you for your support, and thanks for joining President Bush and me in supporting David Vitter for Senate. Thank you all so much. (Applause.)