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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
November 1, 2004

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Victory '04 Rally in Cleveland, Ohio
International Exposition Center
Cleveland, Ohio

9:12 A.M. EST

MRS. BUSH: Thank you all. Thanks so much. (Applause.) And thanks so much, Senator Voinovich, and thank you Janet. And thanks to both of them for their friendship.

George was elected governor in I think it was your second term. And we got to be very good friends of the Voinoviches through the National Governors Association. And we really, really appreciate the service of Senator Voinovich in the United States Senate. As well as Senator Mike DeWine and Fran. Their friendship and the service of your two senators -- you're very, very fortunate to have such fine senators. And we're fortunate to have them as friends. (Applause.)

Mayor Hruby, I want to thank you also. Thank you very much for being a part of today's program, and thank you for your service to the Bush-Cheney volunteer effort. And thank you also for your friendship. (Applause.)

And thanks to everyone out here. Thank you very much. Thank you for manning the phone banks and putting out the signs and doing all the hard work. I really especially appreciate your support and your prayers and I thank you for the privilege you've given me and my husband of serving our country.

Our lives have been enriched by meeting so many of our fellow Americans. And as we've visited communities, we've witnessed the decency and the kindness and the character of Americans.

I'm a little nostalgic today because this is the last day, the final day, on George's last campaign. But it reminds me of our first campaign 27 years ago. George and I were newlyweds and he was running for Congress. The race didn't turn out as we hoped, but we joked that maybe he'd run again when we were 50. (Laughter.)

Well, 10 years ago this week, we were a couple of years shy of 50 and George was elected governor of Texas. He hasn't lost an election since, and with your help, we're going to carry Ohio tomorrow and win a great victory. (Applause.)

We've been through a lot together these last four years. But today, our economy is growing, we're closing the achievement gap in our public schools, and America is safer and stronger thanks to the President's decisive leadership. (Applause.)

People ask me all the time whether George has changed. He's a little grayer. (Laughter.) And, of course, he's learned and grown as we all have. But he's still the same person I met at a backyard barbecue and married three months later in Midland, Texas.

He'll always tell you what he thinks. You can count on him, especially in a crisis. His friends don't change, and neither do his values. He has boundless energy and an enthusiasm for his job, and for life itself. He treats every person he meets with dignity and respect -- the same dignity and respect he has for the office he holds. He's a loving man with a big heart. He makes his views clear and he stands on principle. And, above all, the President says what he means and he does what he says. (Applause.)

Four years ago, when our economy needed a jumpstart, my husband said he would reduce taxes and he kept his word. (Applause.) Millions of families and small business owners are saving more of their own money because the President worked to pass the largest tax relief in a generation. And today, our economy is growing. We've added 1.9 million new jobs in the last 13 months. Home ownership is at an all-time high. More minority families own their own home in America than ever before in our history. 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, my husband promised to end the soft bigotry of low expectations by reforming our public schools. He kept his word. He worked with Congress to pass good, sound education reforms, to bring high standards to the classrooms, and to make schools more accountable to parents. And today, scores are rising in reading and math, and minority students are closing the achievement gap. 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. Today, over 4 million Americans have already signed up for their new Medicare prescription drug cards so they can save more on medicines. And in 2006, when the full prescription drug coverage begins, seniors will even have more, save even more.

In a new term, President Bush will pass medical liability reform to reduce frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.) He'll make sure that patients and doctors are in charge of health care in America, not government officials in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)

All of these issues are important to our families and to our nation. But we're living through the most historic struggle our generation has ever known. And 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. The President and I want all of our men and women in uniform and their families to know how much every American appreciates their service and their sacrifice. (Applause.)

Once again, as in our parents' generation, America is making the tough choices, the hard decisions and leading the world toward greater security and freedom. I wasn't born when my father went to World War II. Like many of our Greatest Generation, he served in the United States army in Europe for almost three years. His company liberated Nordhausen, one of the concentration camps. You can imagine the horror that he saw when he got there.

The methods of the terrorists we face today are different, but my father would know this struggle. Our parents' generation confronted tyranny and liberated millions. And today, as we do the hard work of confronting terror, we can be proud that 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.)

Earlier this month, millions of Afghan citizens voted in the first free presidential election in the history of their country. (Applause.) And the first voter was a 19-year-old woman. (Applause.)

The people of Iraq are also building a democracy, even as they face violence from those who oppose freedom. Voter registration will start next month and free and fair elections will be held in Iraq this coming January.

The future holds great promise for the people of Afghanistan and Iraq. And though many difficulties lie ahead, the United States must remain a constant friend to both nations.

Americans know 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 all men are created equal to abolish slavery. And not until 84 years ago did American women get the right to vote. (Applause.)

This is a critical moment in our history. We've accomplished so much and we've come so far, yet our work is not finished. The polls open in Ohio at 6:30 tomorrow morning. Offer to drive a friend or a neighbor to vote. When you leave here today, tell them about the President's leadership and his vision for making America safer and stronger. Reach out to Democrats and Independents who appreciate strong and optimistic leadership.

Tomorrow, 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 to spread liberty. Families and business owners can choose a President who wants to keep taxes low so people can have 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. And parents can choose a President who will keep us on the path to excellence and high standards in our schools for every child.

The choice is clear. America needs the leadership of President Bush for four more years. (Applause.) Thank you all so much. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for your hard work. And may God bless America. Thank you all. (Applause.) Thank you everybody. (Applause.)

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