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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
September 28, 2006
Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Dick Devos for Governor Reception
Oakland Hills Country Club
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
5:02 P.M. EDT
MRS. BUSH: Thank you very much, Dick. I'm so happy to be here today for Dick DeVos for governor. Thank you all for coming out to say hello to me and coming out to support him.
I also want to acknowledge Ruth Johnson, the candidate for lieutenant governor, who is here on the stage with us. Ruthie, thank you for being here. (Applause.)
In the crowd is Mike Bouchard, who is running for the United States Senate. Mike, we're behind you 100 percent. Thank you so much for joining us today. (Applause.)
I also want to, of course, recognize Betsy DeVos, Dick DeVos's wife. I'm so happy to see her here. When your spouse is in politics, you're involved whether you want to be or not. (Laughter.) And fortunately for Dick, he has a wife who's very, very capable, who does want to be involved, because we know that successful candidates are the ones who have family members who stand with them all of the time, and I want to thank Betsy for that.
Of course, with her experience in politics, she's stood by many candidates, including my husband. So thank you, Betsy, for everything that you've done for Republican candidates, and especially for your support now for your husband's campaign for governor. (Applause.)
I'm delighted to be with you all today to support Dick DeVos's campaign for governor. A native Michigander, Dick cares deeply about the people of this state. And in Lansing, he'll be a powerful advocate for Michigan's families. Dick will improve the cities and communities where Michigan families work and live.
In his hometown of Grand Rapids, Dick formed and co-chaired the Grand Action committee, a public-private partnership that turned around Grand Rapids' health care system and revitalized the city's downtown. Under Dick's leadership, Grand Rapids developed new hotels, housing, restaurants and shops. The city built a $75 million sports arena, and a $220 million convention center, and a $130 million heart hospital. These projects improved the quality of life for the Grand Rapids community, they encouraged investment in the city, and they created thousands of new jobs.
Dick will bring to Lansing the principles of efficiency and accountability that have defined his success in his business career. He'll ensure that Michiganders' tax dollars are spent wisely and responsibly. Dick supports tax cuts, especially tax cuts that will encourage businesses to invest and expand in Michigan.
Across the United States, we've seen how allowing workers to keep more of their own earnings improves economic opportunities for everybody. Dick supports President Bush's tax cuts, which have fueled our country's economy, and have helped add 5.7 million new jobs since 2003. And that means 5.7 million more Americans wake up every morning with the dignity and sense of purpose that comes with a job.
And there are few people more dedicated to creating jobs in Michigan than Dick. Because of his business experience, Dick understands that manufacturing is vital to Michigan's economy. And in Lansing, he'll work to make sure that the manufacturing industry thrives here.
Dick spent 20 years at Amway, building his management skills and promoting Michigan's products in the global marketplace. And for 10 years, Dick led Alticor. Today, because of Dick's leadership, Alticor is a multinational Michigan-based company that employs more than 13,000 people.
Dick also understands the needs of Michigan's small-business owners. We visited one today, actually, right before we came here, the Franklin cider press -- (laughter) -- which was great, by the way. He and Betsy operate a small manufacturing business in Holland that makes closet and garage organizers. Dick's business experience hasn't just helped Michiganders avoid clutter. He's sold Michigan-made products around the world and created thousands of jobs in your state.
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 steering them away from dangerous behaviors and 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've met with the young people who are leaving gangs and finding jobs. Here in Michigan, one of my very first visits was to "Think Detroit," which teaches character development and healthy behavior through sports.
All of these visits led to the White House Conference on Helping America's Youth last October, where the two men who started "Think Detroit" were presenters. And then we've had two regional conferences in Indianapolis and Denver. At the conference, we introduced an online, interactive Community Guide. The guide helps concerned adults learn more about the problems youth are facing in their own communities, and then they can learn what local resources are available to help address these problems. The guide is available on the Helping America's Youth website, which is www.helpingamericasyouth.gov -- that's g-o-v. I encourage you to look at this website and to use these resources here in your communities.
Dick DeVos has a strong record of commitment to young people. A former Boy Scout and Scoutmaster, Dick has helped boys in his community build the leadership skills and develop the character they need to become healthy and successful young men. And Dick and Betsy co-chair the Education Freedom Fund, an organization that's given more than 6,000 scholarships to low-income children across Michigan, allowing these children to attend quality schools that can help them succeed. So thank you, Dick and Betsy, for this very important work. (Applause.)
We all know, though, that the well-being of young people in Michigan and throughout our country ultimately depends on our government's ability to protect them, by defeating terrorism and increasing liberty abroad. As governor, Dick will be a champion of the men and women of the Michigan National Guard, and of the Michiganders serving in the United States military. (Applause.)
And thanks to our troops, the Iraqi people are now free from the oppression of Saddam Hussein and are working to build a democratic future for their country. President Bush has pledged that the American people will stand with them as they build their democracy. (Applause.)
And in Afghanistan, women and girls can now be educated. It's hard for us to imagine a country that would prohibit half of its citizens from being educated. But now little girls are in school all over Afghanistan.
All of us are proud of the young men and women who are deployed around the world defending our country overseas to make sure that our families are kept safe here in the United States. (Applause.)
Dick's dedication to the people of Michigan and his achievements remind us of why he must be elected governor. Dick understands that your state and our country face challenges too important to be reduced to just politics.
Helping more Michiganders and Americans provide for themselves and their families, improving opportunities for children, and keeping our communities safe 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 here in Michigan, Dick DeVos will be a thoughtful, positive and powerful part of that dialogue.
This is just one reason why Dick is a wonderful leader for Michigan. When you look through his distinguished record of public service, you'll find many more.
Thank you very much for coming out today to support Dick. Thank you for your generous support for his election. I urge you to redouble your efforts between now and November to make sure Dick DeVos is elected governor of Michigan.
Thank you all very, very much. Thanks, everybody. (Applause.)