For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
September 10, 2004
Mrs. Bush's Remarks at a Victory '04 Rally in Manchester, NH
Southern New Hampshire University
Manchester, New Hampshire
2:23 P.M. EDT
MRS. BUSH: Thank you all so much. Thank you, Jenna, for that very sweet introduction. One of the great things about having our girls on the campaign trail with us is now is that we get to hear them talk about how much they love us -- (laughter) -- and in public, too.
Thank you all very, very much for being here. Thanks to everyone that's here. I'm so happy that Congressman Jeb Bradley is here and, of course, Senator Judd Gregg and Kathy, who are our very close friends. Thanks to Governor Benson very much for welcoming us to your state. I also appreciate Mayor Wieczorek. Thank you for being here, Mayor. And Tom Rath, thanks a lot for being here.
And we all -- every one of us -- appreciate Gerry Duncan's support for National Guard Families. Gerry, thank you so much. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
Thanks also to the many volunteers who are working so hard to ensure that President Bush leads this country for four more years. (Applause.)
We have just a few weeks left now until November 2nd, until Election Day, and I want to thank everyone and encourage everyone to keep working between now and November 2nd.
George and I first traveled together on the campaign trail when he ran for Congress in 1978 in our hometown, Midland, Texas. We were newly married, and we spent all of our time driving up and down the panhandle of Texas. George was driving. We were in his Oldsmobile Cutlass. And, believe me, you learn a lot about your husband when you spend that much time in a car with him. (Laughter.) By the end of the campaign he had even convinced me to vote for him. (Laughter.) This time I don't need any convincing. (Applause.)
I've watched my husband lead our country with strength and conviction through some of our generation's greatest struggles. I've watched him take 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, we've added 1.7 million jobs since last August. And that's more jobs than Germany, Japan, England, Canada, and France combined. (Applause.)
The national unemployment rate has fallen to 5.4 and, here in New Hampshire, your unemployment rate has fallen to 3.9. (Applause.) And I think that really speaks to the industrious workers that you are really so fortunate to have in your state.
Also -- and I love this statistic -- home ownership is at an all-time high in the United States. More people own homes than ever before. And, for the first time in our history, more than half of all minority families own their own home. I think that's such a hopeful statistic. (Applause.)
I've also watched as our schools have improved with higher standards and accountability and with increased funding, so that every child in every neighborhood has a chance to succeed. (Applause.)
And I've watched as my husband has made the tough decisions that have helped safeguard our children from terror and have liberated people from tyranny. We've been through some very historic times together in the last four years. And these are also times of change that require new ideas to move America forward.
Last week in New York, President Bush outlined his agenda for a new term. We know that families face new challenges, and that government should respond to these changing times.
Just a few decades ago in most families, fathers were the primary breadwinners. People worked in the same job for the same company for 30 or 40 years. And those companies provided health care and retirement security. Today, more and more families have two parents in the work force, while single parents do double duty alone. And two-thirds of all moms now work outside of the home. Our way of life has changed dramatically. Yet many of the systems that we rely upon, like health care, retirement plans, and work force training, have not.
My husband believes that government should help people improve their lives, not try to run them. (Applause.) And we all know that all opportunity starts with education. We all want our children to receive the best education in the world. And we want our students in high school to be well prepared to go on to college or to join the work force.
President Bush wants to strengthen math and science education in high schools and broaden Internet learning so that young people can contribute and compete in our technology-driven world. (Applause.) And as for workers who want to go back to school to learn new skills, the President wants to work with community colleges like the one where we are right now to make career training more available for more Americans. And because higher education is the dream of so many, he wants there to be many more Pell grants so that more Americans can get their college diploma. (Applause.)
Our graduates and our workers need an economy with abundant opportunity -- one in which businesses are growing and creating new jobs. This requires making America the best place in the world to do business. And President Bush knows that starts with keeping taxes low. (Applause.)
And my husband wants to help American workers keep more of something they never have enough of, and that's time -- time to play with their kids, time to take care of their parents, or time to volunteer in their communities. President Bush will work with Congress to make flex time and comp time available so more Americans can better manage the demands of work and family. (Applause.)
And because now so many people change jobs several times during the course of their careers, workers need health care and retirement accounts that they can take with them from job to job. The President is making health care more accessible with new ideas like health savings accounts. These plans enable people to save tax-free for their health care in accounts that they own, they manage, and they keep. (Applause.)
The President also wants to strengthen Social Security by giving younger workers their choice to save part of their Social Security taxes in personal accounts. (Applause.)
All of these issues are important to the strength of our nation. But as we grieve with the families in Russia, and as we approach 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: You all may not know it, but three years ago tomorrow, on September 11th, 2001, I was with your senator, Judd Gregg, at the capitol, the United States Capitol. I had gone to brief the Senate Education Committee which he was the Minority Chairman of then, on the results of a summit on early childhood education that I'd had that summer.
And so Senator Gregg and I were together as we watched those -- as we all remember, those really very horrifying footage that we couldn't believe at the time. But I want to thank him again for being with me that day and for being so caring and kind to me. (Applause.)
The terrible acts of September 11th showed us the threat that we face, but they also called us to the great work of promoting freedom and democracy in far corners of the world. President Bush and I want all of our men and women in uniform and all of their families to know how much we appreciate their service. (Applause.)
We appreciate the dedication of courageous Americans like Lieutenant Colonel Howard Sanborn who is serving in Afghanistan, and his wife Carol is with us today. (Applause.) But in Carol's family, it's not just her husband who is serving, but her two sons, Howard Junior and Anthony, and their daughter Jamie, all of whom are serving in the military right now. (Applause.) And I want Carol to know -- and Kim to know, who is here, that you all and your families are in our thoughts and prayers every day. And I know I can speak on behalf of all Americans when I say that. (Applause.)
We are all proud of the hard work our men and women in the military are doing, the hard work they are doing to confront terror and also the fact that 50 million more men, women and children live in freedom thanks to the United States of America and our allies. (Applause.)
After being denied an education, even the chance to learn to read, little girls in Afghanistan are now in school. After years of being virtual prisoners in their homes by the Taliban, the women of Afghanistan can now leave their homes without a male escort. 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. We still face many challenges in Iraq every day. But we know that the defeat of terror in Iraq is vital to the defeat of terror around the world. And we have pledged to stand with the Iraqi people during this historic time for their nation. (Applause.)
As we watch the people of Iraq and Afghanistan take the first steps as they try to build free countries, we must remember that building a democracy takes time. Think how long it took us in our country, and how we were given such a perfect document to start with by our founders. But it took almost 100 years after our founders declared that all men are created equal to abolish slavery -- 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. We are the beneficiaries of the work of the generations before us, and it's our responsibility to continue that work. (Applause.) My husband believes that there's more to do to make our country safer, stronger, and more hopeful. And he will continue the great and privileged work of leading America forward while holding true to our timeless ideals.
All of you can contribute so much to our campaign by getting out the word about the President's accomplishments. Talk to your neighbors and your friends -- and reach out to Democrats and Independents who appreciate strong and optimistic leadership. Sign up with the campaign, make phone calls, or go door to door bringing the President's message to voters. Everything you do to reach the voters and to get them to the polls 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 our responsibilities to the country we love.
George and I grew up in West Texas, where the sky seems endless and so do the possibilities. He 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 so much. Thank you, and may God bless America. Thank you very, very much. (Applause.)
END 2:41 P.M. EDT