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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
October 28, 2004

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Victory '04 Rally in St. Augustine, Florida
World Golf Village Renaissance Resort
St. Augustine, Florida

4:28 P.M. EDT

MRS. BUSH: Thank you very much. Thank you, everyone. Thank you very much. Thank you all. Thanks so much. Thank you, Columba. (Applause.) You can tell why I'm so proud of my beautiful sister-in-law, Columba Bush. Thank you very, very much, Columba. (Applause.) And of course, of my brother-in-law, your governor, Jeb Bush. (Applause.)

I've had a great time today in Florida. I actually started off in Detroit, Michigan, this morning with the President, and then flew to Sarasota and then Port St. Lucie and then here in St. Augustine. And I've had a terrific time being here in your beautiful state today, and traveling with your next senator, Mel Martinez. (Applause.)

As many of you know, Mel served on the President's Cabinet as Housing and Urban Development Secretary and he did a really terrific job there. And while he was there serving on the Cabinet, both George and I got to be great friends with Mel and Kitty Martinez, and they're just terrific. He'll do such a wonderful job for Florida.

I also want to thank the beautiful Kim Alexis for being the emcee. Thank you, Kim. (Applause.) And, of course, Carole Jean Jordan, who is our Republican Party Chairman in Florida. Carole Jean, thank you very much. Thank you for all you do. (Applause.) And your state representative, Jennifer Carroll. Thank you, Jennifer, thank you very much. (Applause.) I don't know where all those people are standing, but maybe they're over here on this side. Thank you all.

And thanks so much to each and every one of you. Thank you for the warm welcome today, and thank you for joining me here this afternoon.

Earlier this month, Barbara and Jenna and I -- my daughters -- were in Vero Beach, Florida. We went there to help with the hurricane relief. And we were so impressed with the resiliency of the people of Florida. We were inspired by the volunteers, by the National Guard soldiers who were there handing out the food and water -- (applause) -- by the police and the rescue workers, and of course especially by the Red Cross and Salvation Army volunteers who spent so much time here in this state. It was really very, very inspiring.

As I get to travel around our country, I get to see every day how decent and generous Americans are. We can take comfort in knowing that in times of tragedy, Americans always unite to help each other. I know that many families here in Florida are starting to rebuild and they are getting back on their feet. And I want them to know that all Americans will keep all Floridians who were harmed by the four hurricanes in their prayers, and that the U.S. government will continue to do everything it can to help people get their houses back in order and get their lives back in order. (Applause.)

And I'm so glad to be here in St. Augustine, especially to talk about why it's so important to reelect President George W. Bush. (Applause.) We've been through a lot together over the last four years. But today, our economy is growing, we're closing the achievement gap in our schools, and America is safer and stronger thanks to the President's decisive leadership. (Applause.)

I visited Ohio a few weeks ago to meet with a woman entrepreneur, and she summed up our success this way. She said, "President Bush was born for such a time as this. He never wavers when it comes to doing the right thing. And it makes me feel so secure to know that our leader has such a love for our country." (Applause.)

Like this woman business owner, women across America are playing an important role in this election. We have clear ideas about the kind of leader we want to protect our children and to move our country forward. We want a leader who will keep our country and our families safe, a President who will make sure that every child receives an excellent education, and that our families can have affordable and accessible health care. We want a leader who understands that we know best about how to spend our own money. (Applause.)

And we want a President who is strong, steady and compassionate, a leader who keeps his word. And I'm proud that my husband is that kind of leader. (Applause.)

President Bush knows that empowered women are vital to a democracy. And as we look around the world today, we can see what happens in countries where half of the population is left out. And just in case he didn't notice that, he's got three strong women at home who won't let him forget it. (Applause.)

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 -- (applause) -- and Margaret Spellings advises the President on domestic policy. (Applause.) That means that, at the White House, women are in charge of everything abroad and everything at home. (Applause.)

Of course, when you have Barbara Bush for a mother, you're used to strong women. (Applause.) A couple summers ago, George and I were visiting the Bushes in Maine for the 4th of July, and we woke up at 6:00 in the morning like we always do. And we went downstairs and got some coffee and then we went in and sat on the sofa in their bedroom, and George put his feet up. And all of a sudden, Barbara Bush hollered, "Put your feet down." (Laughter.) And George's dad said, "For goodness sake, Barbara, he's the President of the United States." (Laughter.) And Bar replied, "I don't care -- I don't want his feet on my coffee table." (Laughter and applause.) So you see, even Presidents have to listen to their mother. (Laughter and applause.)

Actually, George is a lot like his mother. My husband makes his views clear and he stands on principle. (Applause.) And, above all, he means what he says and he does what he says. (Applause.)

Four years ago, when our economy needed a jumpstart, my husband said that he would reduce taxes and he kept his word. Millions of families and small business owners are saving more of their own money because the President worked with the Congress to pass the largest tax relief in a generation. Married couples, parents, workers and business owners all save more of their own money, and today our economy is growing and getting stronger every day. (Applause.)

America has added 1.9 million new jobs in the last 13 months. (Applause.) And in a new term, my husband will work to keep taxes low, so that more workers can find good jobs and families can save for their retirement and for their children's college education. (Applause.)

Four years ago, President Bush promised to end the soft bigotry of low expectations by reforming our public schools. He kept his word. (Applause.) He worked with Congress and passed good, sound education reforms to bring high standards to the classroom and to make schools more accountable to parents. And we're seeing great progress. Math and reading scores are rising. We're closing the achievement gap by helping minority students. And just in case you don't know, Florida is leading in those rising test scores. (Applause.)

In a new term, George will build on these reforms and extend them to our high schools so that no child in America is left behind. (Applause.)

Four years ago, my husband said he would work with Congress to give seniors relief from the rising cost of prescription drugs, and he kept his word. (Applause.) Today, because of the new Medicare bill, over 4 million Americans have already signed up for their Medicare prescription drug cards. And, in case you don't know this, low-income seniors can receive a $600 credit on their prescription drug card this year and another $600 next year. (Applause.) And in 2006, when the full prescription drug benefit begins, seniors will all be able to receive prescription drug coverage in Medicare. (Applause.)

My husband knows that we must do more to lower the cost of health care and to make sure good doctors aren't forced out of practice because of the high cost of medical liability insurance premiums. In a new term, the President will work to reform the medical liability system and reduce frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.) And he will make sure that patients are in charge of health care, not bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)

George believes that government should try to help people improve their lives, not try to run their lives. (Applause.) And the President believes that one of the most promising ways government can help improve our lives is by supporting medical research. He kept the pledge to double the amount of money appropriated to the National Institutes of Health, and I'm very proud that my husband is the first President to authorize federal funding for stem cell research. (Applause.)

Last year, the federal government invested nearly $25 million in embryonic stem cell research and almost $200 million in adult and other stem cell research. The President's policy makes it possible for researchers to explore the potential of stem cells while respecting the ethical and moral implications associated with this research. (Applause.)

As President, my husband has met the toughest challenges with strength and conviction. He believes that it's his duty, the responsibility of every leader, to find solutions to problems, not pass them on to future Presidents or future generations. And that's why my husband is committed to strengthening Social Security today for a new generation tomorrow. (Applause.)

As President, my husband will make sure that America will keep the promise of Social Security to all of our seniors. And Social Security is fine now for our seniors and for people my age, baby boomers who will receive Social Security soon. But the President is exploring ideas to strengthen Social Security for newer generations. 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, they're receive a higher rate of return than the Social Security trust does, and then the government wouldn't be able to take it away. (Applause.)

All of these issues are important to our families and to our nation. But I believe what's most important is my husband's work to protect our country and to defeat terror around the world. (Applause.) The terrible acts of September 11th showed us the threat we face. But they also called us to the great work of promoting freedom and democracy in far corners of the world. As Commander-in-Chief, my husband will make sure our troops always 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 today, 50 million more men, women and children have the chance to live in freedom, thanks to the United States of America and our fantastic military. (Applause.)

Earlier this month, millions of Afghan citizens voted in their first free presidential election in the history of their country. (Applause.) And in a great display of how far Afghanistan has come in such a short time -- remember, two-and-a-half years ago, girls were forbidden to be educated and women couldn't walk outside the door of their house without a male escort. But in a great display of how far Afghanistan has come, a 19-year-old woman cast the very first ballot. (Applause.)

The people of Iraq are also now looking forward to free elections in January, even as they face violence from those who oppose democracy. Already, an Iraqi independent electoral commission is up and running and political parties are planning campaigns. Voter registration will begin next month, and free and fair elections will be held this coming January. (Applause.)

The future holds great promise for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. And though many difficult struggles remain, the United States will remain a constant friend to both nations. (Applause.)

Americans know that building a democracy is never easy. Think of how long it took us in our country. It took almost 100 years after our founders declared all men are created equal to abolish slavery -- do you have a medic? Frank. He's a nurse -- and not until 84 years ago did American women get the right to vote.

We know that democracy requires the participation of every citizen, and voting is one of our greatest rights and responsibilities. So I want to encourage each one of you, make sure you go to the polls on Tuesday and cast your vote. (Applause.)

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

MRS. BUSH: This is a critical moment in our history. We 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. Families and business owners can choose a President who wants to keep taxes low so people can keep more of their own money. We can choose a President who wants a health care system where patients and doctors are in charge, not the government. (Applause.) And parents can choose a President who will keep us on the path to excellence and high standards in our schools for every single child.

The choice is clear. America needs the leadership of President Bush for four more years. (Applause.)

So with just five days left before the election, I want to encourage you when you leave here today to talk to your neighbors about the President's leadership, to reach out to Democrats and Independents who appreciate strong and optimistic leadership. Then make sure you vote and turn out as many voters as you can. Everything you do will be a great help for the President. (Applause.)

I know that on November 2nd, the people of Florida will stand with George and we'll win a great election. (Applause.) Thank you all. Thanks so much, and may God bless you. (Applause.) Thank you for being here with me. Thanks for your friendship. (Applause.)

END 4:48 P.M. EDT

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