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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
May 2, 2006

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Fundraiser for Representative Deborah Pryce
Hyatt Regency Columbus
Columbus, Ohio

12:28 P.M. EDT

MRS. BUSH: Thank you all. Thanks very much, Congresswoman Pryce. Thanks to everyone for coming out today. Thank you for the very, very warm welcome. I'm so happy to be in Ohio, and I'm especially delighted to be here with your very great United States Representative, Deborah Pryce.

Deborah and I spent this morning at the Thurber Center, the home of James Thurber, which was fun for me as a former librarian to have the chance to be at one of our literary landmarks in the United States here in Columbus.

And we met there with a group of Columbus teachers, because this week is the Education Department's Celebrating Teachers Week, roundtables like the one Secretary Spellings and I had with these teachers and with your state school superintendent and your Columbus school district superintendent, and the president of your school board, as well as these very, very outstanding teachers.

Round tables like this are going on across the United States this week. This is the time for education officials to listen to teachers, to find out what they want, what they need, what they need from their government, what they need from all of us, and what they need and want from parents. And we did hear from them, that they really do want parents to be involved in their child's education, so I know I want to encourage all of you and everybody in Columbus to go up to school, meet your child's teacher, see what you can do to help your children be successful.

But we had a great time and I know that Deborah cares very deeply about education, so it was fun to be at this roundtable with her. And we all learned a lot about what is happening and about the opportunities for Ohio's children, and especially here in Columbus and what the school district here is doing - which, by the way, is they're doing very well. They're using the data, the testing data that's come from all of the requirements from No Child Left Behind, to focus on specific students and the specific skills their students need. So I want to congratulate the teachers that we were with then.

I also want to thank Jo Ann Davidson, thank you for everything you've done as Republican National Committee Co-Chair. Thanks for all the things you've done over the years for the Republican Party and the people of Ohio. Also, Jennette Bradley is here with us. Where is Jennette? There is Jennette over her - thank you for your service to your state, Jennette. (Applause.) Betty Montgomery is here, as well. Thank you, Betty.


Deborah Pryce is a very important member of the United States Congress. Jo Ann just told you some of these things, but I want to repeat them because I think you all, and the people in Ohio need to know that Deborah rose very quickly through the ranks of the House of Representatives, and she now serves as Chairman of the House Republican Conference. This position makes her the highest-ranking Republican woman ever to serve in the United States House of Representatives, and it also makes her a role model for girls and women in Ohio and across our nation, a role model in what women can do in public service. So thank you, Deborah, for being a role model for me, and for my girls. Thank you very much.


In this leadership role and throughout her 14 years in Congress, Deborah has been a passionate advocate for the people of Ohio. She represents your values and your priorities: to create jobs and economic opportunity for every person in Ohio, to protect our nation, and to help all of our children grow up to be healthy and successful.

Deborah has supported President Bush's efforts to protect us from terrorism, voting to reauthorize the Patriot Act so that our law enforcement officers have the resources they need to keep our country safe. She's strong in her support for the liberation of Iraq, and she wants to make sure that we stand with our troops until the mission is complete.

Deborah stands with the Ohio families who have sacrificed so much for the cause of freedom. In one week last August, 20 Ohio Marines were killed in action, 14 in a deadly roadside explosive detonated under their vehicle. Nine of these Marines were from the Columbus area. We remember and we honor these men, and our thoughts and prayers are always with their families and with our military families across the United States, who have our deepest admiration and gratitude.

Our troops are the pride and joy of America.

Thanks to our men and women in uniform, we're now seeing the Iraqi people build a democratic government and we see their work to put their country on the path to independence and freedom.

And as our troops are helping spread liberty and democracy abroad, we also face challenges here at home.

One is making sure that all of our children can grow up to be healthy and successful, so that no child is denied the opportunity and promise of America. Here in Ohio, there are few advocates for children as dedicated as Deborah Pryce.

Helping young people build the knowledge and the self-respect they need to lead successful lives is at the heart of the Helping America's Youth Initiative. In his

2005 State of the Union address, President Bush announced the Helping America's Youth, and he asked me to lead it.

Over the last year, I've traveled around the country to meet with young people and the caring adults who take an active interest in their lives. These adults are helping young people avoid risky behavior like substance abuse and gangs, and are guiding them toward good choices that will keep them healthy and safe.

Today I encourage everyone here to learn more about what you can do to support our young people. At the White House Conference on Helping America's Youth last October, we introduced an online, interactive Community Guide to Helping America's Youth.

This guide is a terrific asset for communities trying to determine their local needs and then trying to find resources to meet them. Adults looking to help their local youth can find demographic maps of your community showing which neighborhoods are inhabited by the most children, the most families with children. They can also create a map that shows where the youth programs in their communities are located.

Comparing the maps, community leaders can then identify neighborhoods where young people don't have access to after-school activities, or mentoring programs, or other positive alternatives to risky behaviors.

The Community Guide can also help concerned adults establish proven youth programs, programs that are proven to help young people in these underserved areas. The website offers a list of programs that help people avoid dangerous behaviors. The Community Guide is available on the website, -- "gov," that is. So I urge all of you to look at the guide and use it here in Columbus, in each one of your neighborhoods.

Helping Ohio's children is one of Congresswoman Pryce's top priorities. A former prosecutor, Deborah has worked hard to keep our young people safe. She wrote legislation - signed into law by my husband - that protects women and children from the violence and degradation of human trafficking. Deborah is also working to help youth by increasing the use of DNA evidence to keep criminals and predators off our streets.

Deborah is a long-time proponent of adoption, and she's led the effort in Congress to expand the adoption tax credit - making sure that more families who long for children can welcome them into loving homes. She's been a tireless advocate for improving children's health, and has been a leader in securing funding for children's hospitals, especially Columbus Children's Hospital here in the 15th district.

In addition to keeping children healthy and safe, one of the best ways we can help Ohio's young people lead successful lives is by making sure they can find good jobs.

Recently, I heard from the directors of a program that I visited in Los Angeles last year. That program, Willpower to Youth -- which uses, by the way, Department of Justice funds - uses the performing arts - performances of Shakespeare, actually - to teach youth employable skills. They wrote to me about a young man, Jes s, who I met last year. When I met him, he was on the verge of homelessness. But since then, with his experience building sets for these performances, Jes s is now working at Home Depot - and he was just named the Home Depot Employee of the Month.

Jes s is just one example of how a positive employment experience can help our young people break patterns of risky behavior. Through her efforts to boost America's economy, Deborah has opened doors to fulfilling employment for young people across Ohio. She's worked to reform welfare, helping thousands of families end a cycle of dependence and find dignity and a sense of purpose that comes with a good job.

Deborah's leadership was also instrumental in helping pass President Bush's jobs and growth package - the tax cuts that jumpstarted our nation's economy. And she supports making those tax cuts permanent.

During these very crucial times in our nation's history, we need people in Washington who see the immense promise that's everywhere in our country, and who look forward to the task at hand.

Ohio has that person in Deborah Pryce. She knows how Washington works, and she always remembers that her employers are right here in the 15th District. I urge you to redouble your efforts to re-elect Deborah Price this November.

Thank you for everything you've done for Deborah.

Thank you for all the things you've done for your state, and may God bless America. (Applause.)

END 12:50 P.M. EDT

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