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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
April 23, 2004

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at a Reception for Lisa Murkowski
Washington Court Hotel
Main Ballroom

6:43 P.M. EDT

MRS. BUSH: Thank you all. I'm so glad to be here. I've really been looking forward to have this chance to be with Senator Murkowski and all of you. Thank you very much for your warm welcome.

I want to thank Senator Stevens for being here, and I'm so proud that so many Alaskan Republican women are here. Thank you all. (Applause.) I'm glad to see the mother of the Senator, Nancy Murkowski, here. (Applause.)

President Bush sends his very best regards and his thanks to all of you for supporting Senator Murkowski in her campaign for Senate. He wants all of us to know how vitally important it is to have a strong team in Alaska -- a team like Senator Stevens, Congressman Young, and Senator Murkowski. (Applause.)

I know I won't have to convince you to support Senator Murkowski. All of you know Lisa. You know her as a hardworking public servant, a devoted mother, and an experienced leader. She'll always listen to a question or a concern and you can count on Lisa to speak her mind. (Applause.)

In Washington, we know Senator Murkowski as a principled, skilled legislator who is not afraid to reach across the aisle to get things done. She's respected by colleagues in both parties. And her appointment as deputy whip is evidence of the respect that she's earned.

Senator Murkowski is a strong supporter of Alaska's fisherman, small business owners, seniors and native Americans. And she'll continue to represent their views in Washington. From supporting tax cuts to securing health care for uninsured children, Senator Murkowski has been an advocate for the people of Alaska.

As a native Alaskan, Lisa has spent her lifetime working in her home state on issues that matter to all Alaskans. She understands your priorities and she'll make sure your voice is heard in Washington.

President Bush needs leaders like Senator Murkowski to strengthen our national security, our homeland security and our economic security. President Bush is working hard to keep our country safe and strong. (Applause.)

Over the last three years, our country has faced some of the toughest challenges in our history. I've watched as our President has led our country with compassion and conviction. President Bush has been steady and determined as he's made the most difficult decisions any President can make -- and that's to send Americans to war to protect our national security, and to defend the cause of freedom. And President Bush is grateful to have leaders like Senator Stevens and Senator Murkowski to stand by his side during these difficult times.

Senator Murkowski knows that we must defend our homeland and the peace of free people around the world. September 11th was the defining moment for all of us. We'll never forget the bravery of our fellow Americans or the spirit of unity that spread around our country. And since that fateful day, I've watched as the President's leadership has not only made our world safer but also has made people's lives better.

Thanks to my husband's decisions and America's actions, 50 million people are free from tyranny and oppression. Consider the women and girls of Afghanistan. During the long years of the Taliban regime, they were virtual prisoners in their homes, unable to leave their homes without being escorted by a male relative. And if they didn't have a male relative -- and many didn't because many were widowed from the long period of wars -- they were actually forced to beg, because they were forbidden to go to school or to work. Now the people of Afghanistan have new leaders, new freedoms, and a constitution guaranteeing the right of women. And little girls are in school in Afghanistan, many for the first time in their lives. (Applause.)

And thanks to America's actions, the people of Iraq are free from the tyranny and the torture of Saddam Hussein and today they're building a free and democratic society. We still face many challenges every day. Terrorists from Saddam's regime and Islamic militants commit acts of hate in the hopes that we will abandon the people of Iraq and their hopes for freedom. But, in fact, most of Iraq is relatively stable and most Iraqi people reject violence and dictatorship. Many brave Iraqi leaders are working with our troops and coalition forces to help build a free Iraq.

We can't predict all the hazards that lie ahead or the costs that they will bring. But we know that there's no safe alternative to resolute action. The defeat of violence and terror in Iraq is vital to the defeat of violence and terror around the world.

A strong economy is also essential to our security, and President Bush needs Senator Murkowski's leadership to strengthen our economy and to help make the tax cuts permanent. Thanks to the President's tax relief plan, millions of families are keeping more of their own money and deciding how to use it. For many families, tax relief means more money to pay the monthly bills, to start a college savings plan for their children or to save for their own retirement.

For small business owners, tax relief means expanding their operations to hire more employees. These millions of individual decisions are lifting our economy and improving the lives of people around the country. Economic growth is at a 20-year high and home ownership is at the highest ever.

As a leader of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Senator Murkowski knows that to strengthen our economy, we must get an energy bill passed to break America's reliance on foreign -- (applause). She supports the construction of a natural gas pipeline and the exploration of portions of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which would generate jobs in Alaska and fuel the state's oil service industry.

Senator Murkowski also promotes the purchase of Alaska's seafood to support local commercial fishermen. And she's working hard to conserve Alaska's heritage and natural beauty while increasing opportunity for tourists to explore in your magnificent parks.

Our economy is in a period of great change. Increases in productivity, advances in technology and competition from foreign sources require us to educate and equip workers with the new skills of the future. For our work force to succeed, we must ensure that every child receives an excellent education. (Applause.)

As the mother of two boys who are still in school, and as a former PTA president, Senator Murkowski believes that providing a quality education for our children is the single most important responsibility we have. (Applause.) She supports the No Child Left Behind Act, which provides more money for our schools than ever before from a federal bill, and also supports higher standards for our children and our teachers.

Senator Murkowski also wants better resources for teachers, especially those in rural and under-served areas, where teachers are so desperately needed. Lisa has always been an advocate for children. She secured greater funding for Alaska's social service agencies to support healthy babies and to end domestic violence and alcohol abuse. And Senator Murkowski has co-sponsored legislation signed by President Bush to establish a national missing child alert system.

I know that you're here today because, like Senator Murkowski, you believe that every child deserves to grow up healthy and safe. And you believe that every American deserves an excellent education. You believe that we can help secure peace and freedom in the world. And you believe that, through acts of faith and love, we can build a more compassionate America.

President Bush and Senator Murkowski share your beliefs and they will continue to make them their priorities as they strive to build a stronger America. Senator Murkowski will work with President Bush to make America stronger and to keep our children and families safe so that we can live in a world free from terror. And Senator Murkowski will work with the President to make our country a more compassionate nation, where neighbors help neighbors in need. And I know that's the Alaskan way. (Applause.)

When you leave here today, go to work to elect Senator Murkowski. I urge you to redouble your efforts in the months ahead, talk to your friends and make sure your neighbors vote. Remember that every single vote matters, and every vote for Senator Murkowski is a vote for a better and stronger America.

This election is important to the President and to all of our country. But most of all, it's important to the people of Alaska, who are electing someone who will represent their hopes and dreams in our nation's capital, someone who will uphold the strong character of the people of your state. Senator Murkowski serves the people of Alaska with integrity and compassion and conviction. And these are the very qualities we need in the United States Senate.

So please join President Bush and me in supporting Senator Lisa Murkowski for Senate. Thank you all.

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