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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
October 31, 2006
Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Tennessee Victory 2006 Rally
The Factory at Franklin
2:42 P.M. CST
MRS. BUSH: Thank you all very, very much. Thank you very much for such a warm welcome here in Tennessee. I'm so happy to be with you all today. Bob and I were at Kingsport earlier. Before that, I made a stop in North Carolina, and I'm having a really terrific time traveling around our country campaigning for our candidates. We've got a great group of candidates. And it's been really nice -- there's something so great and maybe a little bit nostalgic for me traveling around our country in the fall. The foliage is so beautiful in all the trees, and Election Day is coming up. So thank you all for your warm welcome. I'm so happy to be here with you.
I want to recognize, of course, our good friend Senator Lamar Alexander, your terrific U.S. Senator -- (applause) -- and your great Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee's 7th district. (Applause.) State Senator Jim Bryson is here, who's your Republican candidate for governor. Jim, thanks for being here. (Applause.) And Bob Davis, the Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party is here. Bob, thank you very much. (Applause.)
And I know out in the crowd are a lot of local officials and candidates, and I want to thank each and every one of you for serving your communities and for making a special trip up to help in each one of your communities. Thank you for running for office. Thank you for serving in your communities.
I'm delighted to be with you today to support Bob Corker's candidacy for the United States Senate. (Applause.) Bob cares deeply about the people of your state, and in Washington, he'll be a passionate advocate for Tennessee families.
Bob has already improved the lives of thousands of Tennesseans through his service as Mayor of Chattanooga. Under Mayor Corker's leadership, Chattanooga's violent crime rate dropped by half. Bob helped city homeowners by managing the budget so that Chattanooga's property taxes are the lowest since the 1950s. He developed the Outdoor Chattanooga initiative, which encourages city residents to explore the majestic mountains and rivers of central Tennessee.
Through the improvements he made to Chattanooga's waterfront, Bob helped attract to the city an additional $2.1 billion in investments. These development projects brought safe and affordable housing to Chattanooga's families. They built new headquarters for major businesses, like the Electric Power Board and Blue Cross/Blue Shield. And they created good jobs for the people of Chattanooga.
As your United States Senator, Bob Corker will bring to Washington the principles of efficiency and accountability that have defined his public service and his business career. He'll support tax cuts. (Applause.) Tax cuts have fueled our economy, and they've helped add 6.6 million new jobs since 2003. (Applause.) And that means 6.6 million more Americans wake up every morning with the dignity and the sense of purpose that comes with a job.
Bob Corker is dedicated to bringing jobs to Tennessee. Bob first learned the value of employment as a teenager, when he held jobs picking up trash and bagging ice in a freezer. After college, Bob worked as a construction laborer. He saved up $8,000 to start his own business. That small business eventually grew into a successful construction company, employing Americans in 18 states. As Tennessee's Commissioner of Finance and Administration, Bob helped almost 40,000 Tennesseans move off welfare and into the workplace. (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 them is by steering them away from risky behavior, and guiding them toward the knowledge and the self-respect they need to lead successful lives.
Bob Corker has a strong record of commitment to young people. As Mayor of Chattanooga, Bob brought accountability to the city's classrooms. He increased pay for excellent teachers. During his tenure, local elementary and middle-school students improved their test scores in every subject. That's a pretty good record. (Applause.)
Bob believes that one of the best ways to help children is to provide them with a stable living environment. Bob has worked in his community and throughout Tennessee to help more families, and especially low-income families, realize the dream of homeownership. He established a non-profit organization that has provided more than 10,000 Tennessee families with low-interest loans. Bob's initiative also provides home maintenance training, so families can take care of their own homes when they move into them. Thank you, Bob, for this important and compassionate work. (Applause.)
We all know, though, that the well-being of young people in Tennessee and throughout our country ultimately depends on our government's ability to protect them -- by defeating terrorism and increasing liberty abroad. In the Senate, Bob Corker will be 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 they're 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 government that would actually forbid half of its citizens from being educated. But now, Afghanistan has a new democratically-elected government, and 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. (Applause.) Their love of our country, and of liberty, never wavers -- and neither does their belief in our cause.
Many of these men and women have given their lives 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, and Bob Corker stands with our troops. (Applause.)
He understands that this election is critical to the future of our country. And he knows 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. 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 at home in a way that does not jeopardize our troops in harm's way. (Applause.) Bob Corker understands his responsibility to you and to our country. So it's so important that we stand with Bob Corker during this crucial time in our country's history. (Applause.)
Thanks to each and every one of you for all you're doing to support Bob Corker. Thanks especially to all the volunteers for your hard work making the phone calls and going from door to door. You've already done so much to help Bob and our other terrific candidates in Tennessee -- like your congresswoman, Marsha Blackburn. (Applause.) And in the next week, they'll need more of your energy and enthusiasm.
We're looking forward to Election Day. This is a spirited contest, and we've got great candidates. And we've got the best grassroots volunteers. (Applause.) Our candidates are depending on you, so be sure to get everyone you know to the polls. Go to the phone banks, knock on the doors, and talk to your friends and neighbors about Bob Corker, Marsha Blackburn, and Tennessee's great Republican candidates. They need your support, and our country needs them. (Applause.)
Thank you all so much for coming out today. Thank you for coming to see me. Thank you for your great support for Bob Corker. I want to encourage every one of you to work very hard in the next week to make sure Bob Corker is elected to the United States Senate on November 7th. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)