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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
October 22, 2004
Mrs. Bush's Remarks At Bush-Cheney '04 Event in West Allis, Wisconsin
The Village at Manor Park
West Allis, Wisconsin
9:56 A.M. CDT
MRS. BUSH: Thanks so much, Jenna. George and I have loved traveling around the country with our girls since they've gone on the campaign trail with us. George is with Barbara today. And it's so great to have your children -- to hear your children tell you they love you -- and in public, no less. Isn't that great? (Laughter.)
I want to thank Jenna for joining me today. I want to thank all of the people who are here with us. Reg Hislop, thank you so much for making this visit of mine so smooth. And I want to thank former Lieutenant Governor Margaret Farrow -- Margaret, are you here? -- thank you so much. Thank you very much for being here with me. (Applause.)
There are a number of state representatives and state senators who are here as well. If you all would stand up, I'd love to see where you all are, and I want to thank each one of you for your service. Thank you for your service to your state and to our country, thank you all very much for serving in elected positions. (Applause.)
And also, I think Scott Walker, our Milwaukee County Executive, is here. Scott, thank you very much. (Applause.)
I'm so happy to be back in Wisconsin to talk about why it's so important to reelect President George W. Bush. (Applause.) This is really my last solo speech. When we leave here, Jenna and I are going to join George and my Barbara, our daughter Barbara, on the campaign trail in Canton, Ohio. And then I will stay with the President, travel with him for the last week of the campaign. But it's been really so much fun. Our country is so terrific. I've met the most wonderful people. Americans are so generous and so decent, and that's what George and I get to see as we travel around to every state in our country.
When Jenna and I join George again and Barbara, he'll be once again surrounded by his girls, all three of us. And the President, I want you to know, is surrounded by strong women -- and not just at home. Sure you can guess that if you have Barbara Bush for a mother, you're used to strong women. (Laughter.)
I'm proud that in my husband's administration, there are more women in senior positions than in any other presidential administration in history. (Applause.) Dr. Condoleezza Rice advises the President on foreign policy, and Margaret Spellings is in charge of domestic policy. That means at the White House, women are in charge of everything abroad and everything at home. That sounds about right to me. (Laughter and applause.)
We all know that the issues that are important to men are the very same issues that are important to women. Women are interested in security issues, women are interested in the economy, women are interested in issues that have to do with children, education, and all of the ways that we can help children -- women I think have a particular interest in. But you might not know how vital American business women are to our economy.
In August, I visited a women entrepreneur, Carol Schneider, at her business in Grafton, Wisconsin. 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, because she was also going to community college, working another job full time, and raising three young boys. But Carol refused to give up. Today, she manages 100 employees in 14 offices and she leads a company worth $36 million dollars. And Carol credits the President's commitment to tax relief to enabling her to open four more offices this year. Isn't that terrific? (Applause.)
Carol told me, "The economy is doing great and it's because the President has implemented policies that allow people to keep more of their own money and spend it how they choose."
And this is the really interesting fact about American business women. Ten million women like Carol own their own business in America, and that sisterhood just keeps growing. In fact, women are starting small businesses at twice the rate of men in the United States. (Applause.)
And since small businesses, which are either usually sole proprietorships or sub-S corporations, are taxed with regular income tax, then when you're talking about tax relief, you're also talking about tax relief for small businesses. They can use that extra money to expand their businesses and to hire more people. Millions of families and small businesses are saving more of their own money because the President worked to pass the largest tax relief in a generation. (Applause.)
America has added over 1.9 million new jobs since last August 2003. And that's more jobs than Germany, Japan, England, Canada and France added, combined. And here in Wisconsin, you've added more than 52,000 new jobs.
We know we have more work to do to make sure every person in America who wants to work can find a job. But that starts with keeping taxes low. This month, President Bush signed a bill extending tax relief for middle class families. And tomorrow* the President will sign another tax relief bill that provides direct help to Wisconsin's manufacturers, small businesses, and farmers. (Applause.) With more money to invest and expand, Wisconsin's businesses can continue to grow and create even more jobs.
The President's administration is vigorously enforcing equal pay laws. They've already secured two multimillion-dollar settlements on behalf of woman who were unfairly deprived of pay. Equality is a basic commitment of a just society, and the President will ensure that we live up to our highest ideals.
My husband also believes that a compassionate society honors its older citizens. And in the last four years, he has achieved historic results for America's seniors. When my husband took office, Medicare was outdated, and seniors were paying the price.
When Medicare was created four decades ago, long stays in the hospital were common, and expensive surgery was often the only treatment for any ailment. And while politicians argued over how to improve Medicare year after year, the system never changed. Some people said that Medicare modernization was impossible.
But President Bush persevered. The Medicare bill is placed on a plan to strengthen Medicare and give seniors better choices under Medicare -- including coverage for prescription drugs. This plan earned the support of groups like AARP, and it was passed by a bipartisan majority in Congress. And last December, President Bush proudly signed the Medicare bill into law.
Now we're making sure that people know about their new options under Medicare -- options like full drug coverage in 2006. And right now, a prescription drug discount card. More than four-and-a-half million people are already using these cards to save hundreds, and even thousands of dollars on their prescription drugs. And more than a million low-income seniors are receiving a $1,200 credit through the end of 2005 on their drug discount card.
If there's anybody here who wants more information about the card, remember you can call 1-800-Medicare to find out all about it.
Another issue of great importance for all Americans is Social Security. Let me say clearly that as long as my husband is President, America will keep the promise of Social Security to all of our seniors. (Applause.)
Social Security will not change for those who are receiving it now, or for people my age who will receive it soon.
We also want to make Social Security available for our youngest workers, so the President is exploring ideas to strengthen Social Security for the next generation. One good proposal is to allow younger workers to save some of their payroll taxes in a personal savings account. These accounts would help workers build a nest egg of their own.
If we take action, we can strengthen Social Security for today and give tomorrow's recipients more options when they retire. (Applause.) As President, my husband has met the toughest challenges with courage. He believes it's his responsibility -- the responsibility of every leader -- to solve problems, not pass them on to future generations.
President Bush believes that his first and foremost duty is to protect our country and to protect the people of the United States. (Applause.)
President Bush and I want the men and women of the United States military and their families to know how much every American appreciates their service and their sacrifice. As long as my husband is Commander-in-Chief, our troops will have the support they need, and the United States military will remain an all-volunteer military. (Applause.)
As we do the hard work of confronting terror, we can be proud that 50 million more men, women and children now have the chance to live in freedom thanks to the United States of America and our allies. America's Greatest Generation liberated the people of Europe and then after World War II helped citizens in Germany and Japan rebuild their societies. At the time, people said Japan will never be a democracy; there's no reason for Americans to work to try to help them build a democracy. Today, Prime Minister Koizumi is one of our closest friends. Sixty years after World War II, the United States and Japan are 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 doors without a male escort. And the little girls in Afghanistan, who were forbidden to be educated, are now in school.
This month, the Afghan people voted in the first free presidential election in the history of their country. (Applause.) Despite threats of violence from terrorists, millions of Afghan citizens went to the polls. We even heard of a bridge that was blown up by terrorists, but the Afghan citizens found a ford in the river so they could cross it to go vote.
A 19-year-old woman became the very first voter in the election. She said, "I cannot explain my feelings, just how happy I am. I would have never thought I'd ever be able to vote in an election." (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 recently.
Prime Minister Allawi said that the Iraqi people are determined to exercise their right to vote, even as they face violence from people who oppose their democracy.
Already an Iraqi independent electoral commission is up and running, political parties are planning campaigns, voter registration will begin next month -- and free and fair Iraqi elections will be held this coming January. The Iraqi people are showing that the violent acts of a few cannot stop the march of freedom. (Applause.) Americans know that building a democracy takes time, and it's work that actually never finished. Think of how long it took us in our country. It was almost 100 years after our founders declared all men are created equal to abolish slavery, and not until 84 years ago did American women get the right to vote. Building a democracy is not easy, but we know it's always right. (Applause.)
This is a critical moment in our history. In just a few days, a week from the next coming Tuesday, voters will face a choice between an America that is uncertain in the face of danger, or an America that takes decisive action to defeat terror and spread liberty. Americans can choose a leader who understands the threat we face today. Families and business owners can choose a President who will keep taxes low so that people can keep more of their own money. We can choose a President who wants a health care system in which patients and doctors are in charge, not government bureaucrats. (Applause.)
And parents can choose a President who will keep us on the path to excellence in our schools by insisting on high standards and accountability for every single child.
The choice is clear: America needs the leadership of President Bush for four more years. (Applause.)
So with just 11 days left, I want to encourage you to tell your neighbors about the President's vision for making America better. Reach out to Democrats and Independents who appreciate strong and optimistic leadership. Make sure you're registered to vote, and get an absentee ballot if you're going to be away from home on November 2nd. Then make sure you vote, and turn out as many people as you can. Everything you do will be a great help for the President's campaign.
These are times of change for our nation, but they're also years of promise. 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.) May God bless you. May God bless America. (Applause.)
10:15 A.M. CDT