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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
September 14, 2004

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at a BC'04 Rally in Middleton, WI

12:06 P.M. CDT

MRS. BUSH: Thank you very much. Thank you very, very much for the very warm welcome. And thank you, Sue Ann Thompson, so much for your introduction. And thank you for lending us your husband, who is our great Cabinet Secretary Tommy Thompson, Secretary of Health and Human Services. (Applause.)

Sue Ann and I have been friends for a long time, from when my husband was serving as governor of Texas and Secretary Thompson was serving as your governor. And we worked on a lot of issues together then, women's health issues and other issues. And we have a special friendship from those years that we met as the spouses of governors year after year. It was really great. Thank you so much, Sue Ann. Thanks for being here with me. (Applause.)

I also want to thank Sue Green, Janna Ryan and Cheryl Sensenbrenner for being here with me. Thank all three of you for being here. Their husbands serve as your great United States congressmen, so thanks a lot. (Applause.) And what about state treasurer Jack Voight. Is Jack here? Thank you so much, Jack. You're over on this side. Thank you so much for being here with me. I really appreciate it. (Applause.)

And thanks to each and every one of you out in the crowd. I know that many of you are volunteers for President Bush and I know that you are working hard to make sure he is reelected for four more years. (Applause.)

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

MRS. BUSH: Thank you all. Thank you so much.

I'm so happy to be in Wisconsin with you to talk about why it's so important to reelect President Bush. President Bush and I were on our very first campaign in 1978. We traveled up and down the panhandle of Texas while George was running for Congress in Midland, Texas. He was behind the wheel. We were alone in the car together. And, believe me, you really learn a lot about somebody when you spend that much time in the car with them. (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.

I've seen my husband as he has led our country with strength and conviction through some of our generation's greatest struggles. I've watched as he's taken decisive action to lead us out of recession with the largest tax cut relief in a generation. (Applause.) And thanks to my husband's commitment to tax relief, we've added a 1.7 million new jobs since last August. That's more than Germany, Japan, England, Canada and France combined. (Applause.)

The unemployment rate has fallen to 5.4 percent nationally and to 4.7 here in Wisconsin . (Applause.) And that really speaks to the hard work and the industry of Wisconsin workers, and I think that's really terrific. Congratulations to you all. (Applause.)

And today -- and I love this statistic. I think it's very, very important and it really speaks to what the United States of America is about, and that is we have the highest home ownership rate in the United States, than ever before. More Americans own their own homes than ever before. In fact, more minorities own their homes than ever before. Now, more than half of all minority families own their own homes. I think that's terrific. (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, and I think that's really important, too. (Applause.)

I've watched proudly as my husband became the first President to authorize federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. And a lot of that research is going on here at the University of Wisconsin. And I'm so proud of the principled way he did this by allowing science to explore its potential while respecting the dignity of human life. (Applause.)

And I've watched as my husband made the tough decisions that have helped safeguard our children from terror and have helped liberate other peoples from tyranny. We've been through some historic times together in the last four years, and these are also times of change that require new ideas to help move America forward.

We know that families face new challenges and that government should respond to these changing times. Just think about the difference in today's society and maybe our parents' or grandparents' generation. Today, in many families, both parents are working full time. Two thirds of all mothers work outside the home now, and more single parents are doing double duty alone. More entrepreneurs are starting their own businesses, while workers are changing jobs more often. A couple of generations ago, people would work -- the man, usually, in the family would work for one company for his entire career. Now people change jobs several times over their career. And more people are going back to school to keep up with our changing economy. We're also living longer, and that's good news.

In New York , President Bush outlined his agenda for a new term. Helping families face the challenges of this changing world is at the heart of the President's plan. And we all know, every one of us, that all opportunity starts with education. We all want our children to go to the best schools and 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 college or to join the work force.

President Bush believes that we need to strengthen math and science education in high schools and broaden Internet learning so that young people can compete in our technology-driven world. For workers who want to go back to school to learn new skills, the President wants to work with community colleges to make career training more available. That's great. And the community colleges really provide great services to all of our communities. (Applause.) And because higher education is a dream for so many, he will make Pell grants more available so 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. Women are opening businesses at twice the rate of men, and they employ more than 19 million employees.

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 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 young children. But Carol refused to give up. 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 to 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 to spend it how they choose. (Applause.)

Small business owners like Carol are some of the hardest working people in America . And my husband wants more Americans to be able to share in their success. The President knows that that starts with keeping taxes low. (Applause.) Already, small business owners have each saved an average of $3,000 this year alone. Owners are investing this extra money, expanding their operations and strengthening our economy.

And just in case you don't know, many small business owners are either sole proprietorships or sub-S corporations. And both of those are taxed with regular income taxes. So when you talk about tax relief, you're talking about relief for small business owners. They can use that extra money then to expand their business and hire more people. (Applause.)

My husband also wants workers to have something we never have enough of, and that's time. Time to play with our kids, time to take care of our parents, or time to volunteer in our community. President Bush will work with Congress to make flex time and comp time available so that more Americans can better manage the demands of work and family. (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 when they change jobs. We have the best health care in the world, and my husband believes it's time to put care back into the hands of patients and doctors. (Applause.)

The President is making health care more accessible with new ideas like health savings accounts. Health savings accounts enable people to save tax free for routine medical expenses like eyeglasses or doctors visits. Workers can then take these accounts with them if they start a new job or if they leave work maybe to have a family. This is health care that we own, we manage and we keep ourselves. (Applause.)

Another growing crisis that concerns us all, especially women, is medical liability reform. Recently, I traveled to 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 delivering 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 drive good doctors out of practice. To help doctors and women like Erin, President Bush will work to reform the medical liability system and reduce junk lawsuits. (Applause.)

And because we have good health care and we're living longer, it's more important than ever that we can own and manage our own retirement plans. The President wants to give younger workers their choice, the option to create personal retirement accounts in Social Security that they can manage and pass along to their spouse or children.

All of these issues are important. 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 us to the great work of promoting freedom and democracy in the far corners of the world. President Bush and I want all of the men and women in the United States military and their families to know how much we appreciate their service. (Applause.)

As with Nicole, who helped lead the Pledge earlier, and as you all know is a sergeant, I know that she can be proud that, as we do the hard work of confronting terror, there are 50 million more men, women and children now living 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 can now walk outside without a male escort. And after being denied an education, even the chance to learn to read, little girls in Afghanistan are now back 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.)

And 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 and in Afghanistan, but we know that the defeat of terror there is vital to the defeat of terror around the world. And we have pledged to stand with the Iraqi and the Afghan people during this historic time for their nation. (Applause.)

And as we stand with the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, we must remember that building a democracy takes time. Think how long it took us in our country, even though we were given the perfect document by our founders, it was almost 100 years after our founders declared all men are created equal that we abolished 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 these ideals never ceased to guide us. We are the beneficiaries of the works of generations before us and it's our responsibility to continue that work. (Applause.)

My husband believes that there is more to do to make our country safer, stronger and more hopeful. And he'll continue the great and privileged work of leading America forward while holding true to our timeless ideals.

So I want to encourage you, each one of you, to talk to your neighbors about the President's accomplishments, to reach out to Democrats and Independents who appreciate strong and optimistic leadership. Make sure everyone you know is registered to vote and then turn them out at the polls. Everything you do will be a help to the President's campaign.

Four years ago, we came so close in Wisconsin. This year, we're going to win. (Applause.)

These are times of change for our nation, but they're also times of promise. We have great confidence in our ability to overcome challenges. We've gained a new appreciation for our 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. My husband brings that optimism, that sense of purpose, that certainty that a better day is before us, every day to his job. And with your help, he'll do it for four more years. (Applause.)

Thank you all so much. Thank you. (Applause.) Thanks so much. Thank you all. Thank you for your friendship, and may God bless America.

12:26 P.M. CDT


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