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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
September 26, 2006

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at a Joy Padgett for Congress Luncheon
The Granville Inn
Granville, Ohio

1:15 P.M. EDT

MRS. BUSH: Thank you, Joy, for the very nice introduction. Thank you to everyone here for the warm welcome to Ohio. I want to thank Joy's husband, Don Padgett, who is here today. When your spouse is in politics, you're involved, whether you want to be or not. (Laughter.) And we know that successful politicians have families who support them and are there for them all the time. In fact, Joy likes to say that the reason she's in the campaign is because Don encouraged her to get out of the home -- and into the House. (Applause.)

Before I came here, I wanted to learn a little bit more about Joy, about her accomplishments, her personality and her life. Joy's colleagues told me a lot about her: that red is her favorite color, that her signature piece is a starfish pin -- she's wearing it -- that she has a Bassett hound named Daisy and a cat named Snoots. But what really stood out was when they said that Joy, who has just told you was a school teacher for 20 years, owns custom brass knuckles. (Laughter.) When Joy says she's a tough campaigner, and that she'll fight for the people of Ohio, she really means it. (Applause.)

But even without using her brass knuckles, Joy has earned a reputation for being a powerful advocate for Ohio's families. And it's very important that Joy is elected to the United States Congress. (Applause.)

Joy cares deeply about the people of the 18th district. As Director of your state's Office of Appalachia, Joy improved health care for Ohio's mountain residents. She created the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, which encourages the private sector to invest in this area by promoting philanthropy in Ohio's 29 Appalachian counties. So far the foundation has secured $2 million to invest in economic and community development, and to help improve this region's youth and family services.

In Congress, Joy will be a respected voice representing this district's major industries. She grew up on a farm, and she's been a passionate advocate for Ohio's farmers as vice chair of the State Senate's Agriculture Committee. Joy also established the Small Farm Institute, which has improved entrepreneurial opportunities for Ohio's farmers and landowners.

Energy, too, is vital to Ohio's economy. In the State Senate, Joy sponsored legislation to retain the Ohio Coal Tax credit, saving Ohio coal jobs. She helped bring an ethanol plan to Coshocton County, and supported an ethanol start-up in Harrison County -- improving employment opportunities for people here in the 18th district.

In the House, Joy will make sure Ohioans can keep more of their hard-earned dollars from new jobs by ensuring that their tax dollars are spent wisely and responsibly. Joy has fought for lower taxes in the State Senate, and in the Congress, she'll support President Bush's tax cuts.

These tax cuts have fueled the economy, and they've helped add 5.7 million new jobs since 2003. (Applause.) And that means 5.7 million more Americans wake up every day with the dignity and the sense of purpose that comes with a job.

Offering young people the hope of good employment is one of the most important things we can do for our children. Another way we can help 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 mentors and Big Brothers and Big Sisters. I've visited with gang intervention programs, where I've 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 since then to two regional conferences -- one in Indianapolis and one in Denver.

At the conferences we introduced an online, interactive Community Guide. This guide helps concerned adults learn more about the problems facing youth in their own communities, and what local resources are available to address those problems. The guide is available on the Helping America's Youth website, which is -- that's g-o-v. I encourage you to look at the website and to use these resources in your community.

Here in Ohio, there are few advocates for children as dedicated as Joy Padgett. As she told you earlier, she's a lifelong educator, having spent 20 years in Ohio public school classrooms. She developed the Appalachia Reads Center, which promotes literacy in Ohio's Appalachian counties.

And Joy brought her passion for learning to the State Senate. As chair of the Senate's Education Committee, Joy has improved your state's education system, and has secured increased funding for Ohio schools. She sponsored the legislation that established Ohio's Partnership for Continued Learning, an initiative that brings together educators from the pre-school to the post-secondary levels to help Ohio's young people develop the skills they need to help build a well-trained workforce for your state.

We all know, though, that the well-being of our young people in Ohio and throughout our country ultimately depends on our government's ability to protect them -- by defeating terrorism and increasing liberty abroad. (Applause.)

Joy stands with our troops at this crucial time in our country's history. In the State Senate, Joy supported legislation that provides tuition assistance to members of the Ohio National Guard, ensuring that more Guardsmen who serve our country can pursue the dream of a college education. And in Congress, Joy 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, 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.

And in Afghanistan, women and girls can now be educated. (Applause.) 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.

I talked to the President this morning when I just landed, right on my drive here. President Karzai from Afghanistan had been with him this morning. All of us are so 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.)

Joy's dedication to the people of Ohio and her achievements remind us of why it's so important for her to be elected to the United States House. Joy understands that America faces challenges too important to be reduced to simple 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're absolutely vital goals. To accomplish them, we must have serious national conversations, conducted with civility and respect. And Joy Padgett will be a positive and powerful part of that dialogue. (Applause.)

This is just one reason why Joy is a wonderful leader for Ohio. When you look through her distinguished record of public service, you'll find many more.

Thank you very, very much for coming out to support Joy Padgett. Thank you for your generous support for her election. I urge you to redouble your efforts between now and November to make sure Joy Padgett is elected to the United States Congress.

Thank you all so much. (Applause.)

END 1:26 P.M. EDT

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