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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
June 30, 2006

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Reception Honoring Mike Sodrel
Huber's Orchard and Winery
Starlight, Indiana

5:24 P.M. EDT

MRS. BUSH: Thank you very much, Congressman Sodrel, for that very nice and brief introduction. That's the kind I like. (Laughter.) And thanks to each and every one of you for your warm welcome.

I'm very excited to be here, and I can tell all of you are, too. It's always a good idea to campaign at a winery. (Laughter.) And isn't this the prettiest place? It's so lovely. (Applause.) When we drove up on the winding roads to get up here to the top of the hill, there were families sitting out on their front porches waving as we drove by, and it really was a great, very, very warm and friendly neighborhood, I could tell, where people have solid values, and it's pretty obvious.

So thank you all. Thank you for coming here today. And I want to thank you very much for supporting Mike Sodrel for re-election to the United States Congress. (Applause.)

I want to recognize Keta Sodrel and the whole Sodrel family. The lights are so bright I can't tell where they're sitting. But anyway, stand up, you all, so we can see you. Thanks so much. (Applause.) Mike and Keta have precious grandchildren, really darling granddaughters. So it's fun to get to see them.

I think Lieutenant Governor Becky Skillman is here. I saw her earlier in the photo line. I hope she's still here. Governor, are you here? (Applause.) Oh, there she is, right in front of me. Thank you very much.

And the Secretary of State for the state of Indiana, Todd Rokita is here, and Kathy, his wife. Thank you all for coming. (Applause.) And your state Treasurer, Tim Berry. Thank you, Tim, very much for coming. (Applause.)

I also want to thank the whole Huber family for the great work they do here at this -- I got a little tour of the front part of the market here and the vineyards, and I saw as I drove up the trees, the Christmaas tree farm and the orchards. And it's really such a beautiful, beautiful site. I want to thank them for their hospitality, as well. So thanks to all of them. (Applause.)

I don't know if you watched the news today, but this morning, the President and I took Prime Minister Koizumi from Japan to Graceland. (Laughter.) If you'll watch your news later, you'll see that Prime Minister Koizumi actually sang, "I want you, I need you, I love you." (Laughter.) It was really fun. He has been a very good friend to my husband, and one of the world leaders that we've enjoyed knowing the most of all the very fascinating world leaders that we've had a chance to meet.

George often tells crowds that he thinks it's so amazing that Prime Minister Koizumi's father and George's father were sworn enemies in World War II when Japan was our sworn enemy. And now 50 years -- 60 years later, the two sons who are Prime Minister and President are best of friends, and our countries have a very, very strong alliance. (Applause.)

And one of the reasons that happened is because the United States after World War II was committed to helping Japan build a democracy, just like we were committed to helping Germany, as well. And that commitment led to a democracy in Japan and in Germany, and led to having these two really strong allies that had been our enemies before.

So we have a former President, President Truman, to thank for that. And I know that that's what President Bush is trying to do right now -- that is to make very good friends and democracies out of countries that had been our enemies in the Middle East. (Applause.)

Today, I'm so happy to be here for Mike Sodrel. He's gotten off to a very great start in Congress, and not just because he sponsored legislation last year -- which was passed, by the way -- congratulating Tony Stewart on his 2005 NASCAR win. (Laughter.)

During his first term, Mike has distinguished himself as a passionate advocate for Indiana's families. Mike has brought the principles of efficiency and accountability developed during his successful business career to the House of Representatives, ensuring that Indiana tax dollars are spent wisely and responsibly.

He supports tax cuts, and with his support last month, President Bush signed into law the largest tax relief package in American history. (Applause.)

And these tax cuts have fueled our economy. They've helped add 5.3 million new jobs since 2003. And that means 5.3 million more people wake up every morning with the dignity and sense of purpose that comes with a job.

Mike's business experience has inspired his work to end America's dependence on foreign oil. Congressman Sodrel spent 30 years in the transportation industry, building successful trucking and motor coach lines, and even slight increases in fuel costs affected Mike's business. So he understands the burden of increased energy costs on Indiana's working families.

In Congress, Mike has supported energy legislation that promotes clean coal technology, biofuels, wind and solar energy as alternatives to oil and gas.

Mike's transportation background has made him an effective leader on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where, of course, he's made Indiana his top priority. On the committee, Congressman Sodrel helped secure more than $20 million for the Ohio River Bridges Project, which will build two new bridges over the Ohio River, to connect Louisville and southern Indiana, improving transportation options for the people of the 9th district. (Applause.)

And Mike has been a powerful advocate for his constituents through his leadership on the Agriculture Committee. The farm bill comes up next year for reauthorization, and it's important to re-elect Mike so he can make sure that the next bill benefits southern Indiana farmers. (Applause.)

Strengthening Indiana's economy is just one way Mike is helping families in your state. Making sure that every child in Indiana can grow up to be healthy and successful is another way.

In his 2005 State of the Union address, President Bush announced the Helping America's Youth initiative, and he asked me to lead it. Guiding young people as they build the knowledge and the self-respect they need to lead successful lives is at the heart of Helping America's Youth.

I was in Indianapolis earlier this month for our first Helping America's Youth regional conference. At the conference, we heard from community leaders here in Indiana and throughout the Midwest about some of the work that parents, mentors, pastors, coaches and teachers are doing to bring opportunity and hope to young people.

And we heard about the special importance of helping boys, because research shows us that boys are more likely to drop out of school, and less likely to go to college. More boys than girls abuse drugs, join gangs, or engage in violent behavior. Almost three-quarters of the youth that are arrested are boys. And America's children -- boys and girls -- need adults to help them find positive alternatives to dangerous activities.

Since the President announced the Helping America's Youth initiative, I've traveled to many parts of our country visiting with young people and with the adults who are so important to their lives. I've been to schools and to after-school programs. I visited fatherhood initiatives. I've met with mentors and Big Brothers and Big Sisters. I visited gang intervention programs, where I've met young people who are leaving gangs and finding jobs.

Recently, I heard from the directors of a program in Los Angeles that I visited last year. That program, Willpower to Youth, uses the performing arts -- performances of Shakespeare, actually -- to teach youth employable skills. Theey wrote to me about a young man, Jes s, who was on the verge of homelessness when I met him. Since then, with his experience building sets for these performances, Jes s now has a job at Home Depot, and he was just named Home Depot Employee of the Month. (Applause.)

All of these visits culminated last October in a conference that we hosted in Washington. The conference in Indianapolis a couple of weeks ago was the first of our regional conferences, but at the conference in Indianapolis, and at the one in Washington, we introduced an online Community Guide. This guide can help concerned adults learn more about the problems facing youth in your own communities, and what local resources are available to address those problems. The information is available on the website, > -- that's g-o-v. I urge you to look at the website, and then use the guide here iin your own neighborhoods in Indiana.

Congressman Sodrel has a long record of commitment to Indiana's young people. He's been a member of the board of the Guerin Home for Abused Children, and Junior Achievement of Kentuckiana. He served on the Advisory Committee of the Boys and Girls Club. And as chairman of the Boy Scouts Regional Council, Mike has helped thousands of boys in Indiana build leadership skills and develop the character they need to become healthy and successful young men.

We all know, though, that the well-being of families in Indiana and throughout our country ultimately depends on our government's ability to keep them safe by defeating terrorism and increasing liberty abroad.

In the House, Mike has been a champion of the men and women of the United States military. He's visited our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. And as a veteran of the Army National Guard, Mike has sponsored legislation to increase benefits for veterans throughout America. (Applause.)

Thanks to the men and women of the United States military, women and girls in Afghanistan can now go to school. It's hard for us to imagine a country that would actually forbid education to girls or to anyone. So this is a great development. And earlier this month, President Bush visited with the new Iraqi government in Baghdad. In Iraq's new cabinet -- now it's all complete; the last two ministers were chosen right before President Bush went to Baghdad -- and I know, I hope they know that our country stands with them as they build a democratic government. (Applause.)

Congressman Sodrel's dedication to the people of Indiana, and his achievements, remind us of why he must be re-elected. Mike understands that America faces challenges too important to be reduced to politics.

President Bush has an ambitious agenda for the rest of his time in Washington, and he takes his responsibility to the American people very seriously.

Ending our dependence on foreign oil, reforming immigration, rebuilding the Gulf Coast, and keeping our country safe from terrorism are not easy tasks, but they're absolutely vital goals. To accomplish them, we must have serious national conversations, conducted with civility and respect. And Congressman Sodrel will be a thoughtful, positive and powerful part of that dialogue. (Applause.)

This is just one reason why Mike is a wonderful leader for Indiana. If you look through his distinguished record of public service, you'll find many more.

Thank you all so much for joining us today. Thank you for your generous support of Mike Sodrel's re-election. Thank you in advance for the work that you're going to do to make sure he is re-elected in November to the United States Congress.

Thank you all very, very much. (Applause.)

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