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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
October 25, 2006

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at a Minnesota Victory 2006 Rally
Mayo Civic Center
Rochester, Minnesota

12:06 P.M. CDT

MRS. BUSH: Thank you very much, Congressman. Thank you all so much. Thanks for coming out today and giving me such a warm welcome. Thank you very much, Congressman. And you're right, George did promise me I wouldn't have to give a political speech. But I'll tell you, I actually really enjoy this. I've had a great time recently, traveling around campaigning for our candidates across the country. I was in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin yesterday, and two stops here in Minnesota today, and then I go on to Indiana this afternoon for another congressional candidate, a great Republican congressional candidate.

And I'm so happy to have this opportunity. It gives me the chance to get to be with our candidates, to get to be with our elected officials in their own constituencies, to see what it's like where they live, and what the issues are they face. And I can tell you, I am very encouraged. I'm encouraged about our country. We are solid people in the United States. (Applause.)

And one other thing I want to say before I recognize all of the people who are here today, the people who are behind me and the people who are out in the crowd. That is, the other night, President Bush and I hosted an Iftaar dinner, which is the dinner at the -- where you break the fast at the end of the day during Ramadan. And at my table, I had the ambassador from Afghanistan and the ambassador from Iraq, and the ambassador from Morocco and the ambassador from India and the charg from Lebanon and some others. And we were talking about voting rates. And they were saying, well, not big huge numbers -- percentages of Americans turn out. And I said, well, I know, that's right, that's too bad. And then they talked about countries where it's against the law not to vote. And then the Iraqi ambassador, who was sitting by me said, in my country, 70 percent of the people turned out to vote -- (applause) -- which is a lot more than Americans do.

I'm so happy to be here with your governor, Tim Pawlenty. I want to urge you to work very hard for his re-election. I know you all will. I'm happy to be here with Congressman Mark Kennedy, who's the Representative from Minnesota's 6th district. And I urge you to vote for him for Senate. Mark, it's great to get to be with you today. (Applause.) Lieutenant Governor, Carol Molnau is here, too, as well, somewhere in the crowd. Lieutenant Governor, are you -- there she is, over there. Hey, Carol. (Applause.)

All of the state candidates and legislators that are here, will you all raise your hand around the room? And thank you all so much. A lot of them are over here on the side. (Applause.) Thank you for your service, and thank you for running for political office.

And of course, I have to recognize Mary, Congressman Gutknecht's wife. Mary, 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 stand with them and are there with them all the time. And thank you very much, Mary. Thank you for your support for Gil. (Applause.)

I'm delighted to be with you today to support Gil Gutknecht's campaign for Congress, Mark Kennedy's bid for the United States Senate, Tim Pawlenty's re-election as Governor, and all of your great Minnesota Republicans. (Applause.) These candidates care deeply about the people of your state, and in St. Paul and in Washington, they're passionate advocates for Minnesota's families.

Tim Pawlenty has brought to St. Paul the principles of efficiency and accountability that have defined his public service. He's ensured that Minnesota families can keep more of their own earnings. When Governor Pawlenty took office four years ago, Minnesota was running a $4.5 billion deficit. Four years later, the state's budget now has an estimated $1 billion positive balance -- (applause) -- which Governor Pawlenty built without raising taxes. Congratulations to you and your legislature. (Applause.)

Congressman Kennedy, too, has ensured that Minnesotans' tax dollars are spent wisely and responsibly. And as your Senator, Mark will support President Bush's tax cuts. (Applause.) These tax cuts have fueled our economy, and they've helped add 6.6 million new jobs since 2003. And like Gil already said, the unemployment rate in Minnesota is a low 3.8 percent. Congratulations to the hard-working Minnesotans. (Applause.) Those 6.6 million new jobs mean that 6.6 million more Americans wake up every morning with the dignity and the sense of purpose that comes with a job.

There are few people more committed to creating jobs in Minnesota than Gil Gutknecht. (Applause.) Farming is vital to the 1st district's economy, and Gil has been a powerful advocate for you through his leadership on the Agriculture Committee. The farm bill comes up next year for reauthorization, and it's important to re-elect Gil so that he can make sure the next bill benefits Minnesota's agriculture industry. (Applause.)

Congressman Gutknecht also understands that one of the most promising uses for Minnesota farm products is as an alternative source of energy. In the House, Gil introduced legislation to promote ethanol, biodiesel, wind power, and other alternative fuels -- initiatives that will end our dependence on foreign oil, open new markets for Minnesota farmers, and create hundreds of jobs for your state. (Applause.)

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 steering them away from risky behavior, and guiding them toward the knowledge and the self-respect they'll need to build successful lives.

Gil, Mark, and especially Tim have all strong records of commitment to young people. In St. Paul, Governor Pawlenty is improving education for children throughout your state. He supports increased pay for good teachers, and is bringing greater accountability to Minnesota classrooms, making sure all children in your state can attend excellent schools. Thank you, Governor, for this important work. (Applause.)

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

Minnesota's Republicans understand the needs of our troops at this crucial time in our country's history. In Washington, Congressman Gutknecht has ensured that the men and women of our armed forces have the resources they need to keep Americans safe. (Applause.) He's distinguished himself as an advocate for Minnesotans who've served our country in uniform, supporting legislation to increase health care and education benefits for veterans. And in Congress, Gil is a champion of the men and women of 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. (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. (Applause.)

All of us are proud of the men and women who are deployed around the world defending our country. Every day, thousands of these men and women risk their lives overseas to make sure that their families, and all of our families, are kept safe here in the United States. Their love of our country, and of liberty, never wavers, and neither does their belief in our mission.

Many of these men and women have given their life for this belief. Around the country, President Bush and I meet with their families. In military hospitals, we meet with their fellow soldiers who've been wounded in combat. And from our troops and their families, the President and I hear the same request: that we honor the sacrifice of these men and women by seeing their mission through. (Applause.) They ask the American people to stand with our troops until we've succeeded in securing Iraq, with a government that's stable, and an ally to the United States. (Applause.)

Congressmen Gutknecht and Kennedy, and Governor Pawlenty, appreciate our troops' sacrifice. They understand that this election is crucial to the future of our country. And they know that America faces challenges too important to be reduced to just 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. (Applause.) To accomplish them, we must have serious national conversations, conducted with civility and respect.

The right to have these conversations is part of what makes our country great, and our democracy strong. We must be mindful that people around the world are listening to these discussions. Responsible candidates understand that the men and women of our military are risking their lives for us overseas, and that we must conduct our debate here in a way that does not jeopardize our troops in harm's way. (Applause.) And it's critical that all of us stand with our Republican candidates, since they're such a thoughtful and powerful part of this dialogue.

Thanks to each and every one of you for supporting Gil and Mark and Tim. And thanks especially to all of the volunteers for your hard work making the phone calls and knocking on doors. You've already done much to help our terrific candidates, and in the next two weeks, they'll need more of your energy and enthusiasm. So go to the phone banks, knock on the doors, and talk to your friends and neighbors about Minnesota's great Republicans. They need your support, and our country needs them. (Applause.)

Thank you all very much. Thanks for coming out today. Thank you in advance for all the hard work you're going to do over the next two weeks to make sure Gil Gutknecht, Mark Kennedy, Tim Pawlenty, and all of our candidates are elected on November 7th.

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

END 12:20 P.M. CDT

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