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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
August 16, 2006
Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Chris Wakim for Congress Fundraiser
Fairmont, West Virginia
4:56 P.M. EDT
MRS. BUSH: Thank you very much, Chris, thank you to everyone who has come out to support Chris. And thank you very, very much from the bottom of my heart for coming out to welcome me, too.
I want to thank Sandi Dunn, the event co-chair; Mike Shaw, who owns the house and the event co-chair. Thank you very, very much. I also want to recognize Jeannette Wakim and their children, who are here with them -- where is Jeannette? Right around here, right around the corner. Thank you so much, Jeannette. (Applause.)
You know, politics ends up really being a family business, and every member of the family is involved, whether they want to be or not. And it's a huge benefit for a candidate if his family stands with him. And I can tell that Jeannette stands with Chris, and both of their children stand with him, as well. So thank you all, thank you very much. (Applause.)
I'm delighted to be in West Virginia, and here at the beautiful Shaw House. Before I came, I read an article in the Times West Virginian about the last-minute preparations for this event. The story said that "workers were wielding weed whackers, trimming the ivy beds, and planting fresh flowers and holly trees on the grounds of the three-story Tudor Revival home."
I wish I could've told you before I came, there's no rush. (Laughter.) After spending last week at Crawford with the President, I'm used to the sounds of clearing brush. (Laughter and applause.) But everything looks really lovely, and I'm happy to be here with you to support Chris Wakim for the United States Congress.
Chris cares deeply about West Virginians and the people of the First District. He's committed to improving your state's health-care system, so that more West Virginia families will have access to good medical treatment. In Congress, Chris will be especially dedicated to West Virginia's senior citizens. He'll protect retirees' benefits, and help West Virginia seniors enjoy the access to low-cost medications, and the peace of mind provided by the Medicare prescription-drug coverage plan.
Chris Wakim will bring to Washington the principles of efficiency and accountability developed during his successful career as a small-business owner -- ensuring that West Virginia tax dollars are spent wisely and responsibly. During his time in Charleston, Chris has supported every tax-relief measure brought before the House of Delegates. And in the U.S. House of Representatives, Chris will support the President's tax cuts. (Applause.)
These tax cuts have fueled the economy, and they've helped add 5.5 million new jobs since 2003. And that means 5.5 million more Americans wake up every morning with the dignity and the sense of purpose that comes with a good job. Offering young people the hope of good employment is one of the most important things we can do for our children.
Another important way we can help our young people is by guiding them toward the knowledge and the self-respect they need to build successful lives. In his 2005 State of the Union address, President Bush announced the Helping America's Youth Initiative, and he asked me to lead it. Helping young people learn to make wise decisions for their lives is at the heart of Helping America's Youth.
Since the President announced the 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've visited fatherhood initiatives. I've met with mentors and Big Brothers and Big Sisters. I've visited gang intervention programs, where I met with young people who are leaving gangs and finding jobs.
All of these visits led to the White House Conference on Helping America's Youth last October, and then to two regional conferences recently -- one in Indianapolis and one in Denver. At the conferences, we introduced an online Community Guide. This guide helps concerned adults learn more about the problems facing the youth in their community, and what local resources they have to address those problems.
The guide is available on the Helping America's Youth website, www.helpingamericasyouth.gov -- that's g-o-v. I encourage you to look at the website and use the resources there in your communities.
Chris Wakim is committed to improving opportunities for West Virginia's youth, and he just told you that. In the House of Delegates, Chris has consistently supported full funding for the PROMISE Scholarship program, allowing more West Virginia students to realize the dream of a college education.
And Chris shares the concern of many West Virginians as they see this state's bright young people leave for jobs in Ohio, Kentucky, or the Carolinas. In the House, Chris will be a powerful advocate for traditional West Virginia industries like coal, steel and timber. (Applause.) But he'll also work to bring new industries to your state. These new businesses will help West Virginia's economy, and help attract 21st century jobs here, so that young West Virginians will benefit from America's strong economy and choose to raise their families here at home.
We all know, though, that the well-being of families in West Virginia and throughout our country ultimately depends on our government's ability to protect them -- by defeating terrorism and increasing liberty abroad. Chris appreciates the needs of our troops during this crucial time in our country's history. A graduate of West Point, Chris served more than a decade as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army. And in Congress, Chris will be a champion of the men and women of the United States military. (Applause.)
And thanks to the men and women of the United States military, Afghan women and girls can now be educated. (Applause.) It's hard for us to imagine a country that would forbid half of its citizens from being educated. But now, little girls are in school all over Afghanistan.
Recently, President Bush traveled to Baghdad to meet with the new Iraqi government, and then he hosted Prime Minister Maliki at the White House just a couple of weeks ago. President Bush has pledged that we'll stand with the people of Iraq as they build their new democracy.
Chris Wakim's dedication to the people of West Virginia, and his achievements, remind us of why he must be elected to Congress. (Applause.) Chris 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 our immigration system, rebuilding the Gulf Coast, and keeping our country safe from terrorism are not easy tasks, but they are absolutely vital goals. To accomplish them, we must have serious national conversations, conducted with civility and respect. And Chris Wakim will be a thoughtful, positive and powerful part of that dialogue.
This is just one reason why Chris will be a wonderful leader in the United States Congress for West Virginia. (Applause.) When you look through his distinguished record of public service, you'll find many more.
Thank you very much for coming out to support Chris. Thank you for coming out to say hello to me. And thank you for your generous support of his election. I urge you to redouble your efforts between now and November to make sure Chris Wakim is elected to the United States Congress.
Thank you all very much. (Applause.)