The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
April 20, 2004

Mrs. Bush's Remarks in Media Availability in Louisville
Louisville Water Tower
Louisville, Kentucky

2:43 P.M. EDT

MRS. BUSH: I'm so glad to be here today. This is a really very historic and exciting event for me to be able to designate 31 Kentucky towns as Preservation America communities. Versailles was one of the group of the first Preserve America communities and they were designated in a ceremony at the White House earlier this year. And since then, all these Kentucky towns that I named in my speech have been designated Preserve America communities. So it's a real thrill to be able to be here for that.

Kentucky has a very great history and I know people in Kentucky are proud of it. But also we want our children to know it, and we want them to know about our states' histories, we want them to know about our country's history. And one thing each one of these communities is doing is making sure that historic buildings, that historic national landscapes that are in your communities are saved and children will have a chance to learn about what the people did in those communities before and what happened in our country before, and I think that's really important.

So I'm glad to be here today to congratulate Kentucky on such a really outstanding designation. There are many towns -- there are only about 65 Preserve America communities so far and Kentucky has half of them, so that's really a great accomplishment. And a lot of it is because of your terrific historical officer, David Morgan.

Q Mrs. Bush, a two-part question. First on this and then another on another topic.

First, besides a sign, are there any monies that could flow to these communities to help save -- you know, there are very few state dollars --

MRS. BUSH: That's right. There are some monies. There's money through Save America's Treasures that they can apply for. Those grants are very sought after and they are very competitive to get. And they go mainly to places that really are in desperate need of restoration or preservation.

I think there are some tax credits that you can get, communities can get, preservation tax credits, when they -- the communities decide to go together and restore something in their communities.

Q And the second part, I wonder if you have a personal view on the -- the debate now whether to amend the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage?

MRS. BUSH: Well, I agree with my husband that it's an issue that needs to be debated, that the American people want to debate and talk about. And we don't want the Mayor of San Francisco or the Boston -- Massachusetts Supreme Court to make a decision for us. And the fact is a constitutional amendment process would allow debate on both sides of the issue in every state. And so I agree with him on what he said.

Q What is your personal view?

MRS. BUSH: I think I won't tell you my personal view.

Q Mrs. Bush, if you could just talk a little bit, this has been the bloodiest month in Iraq for our American soldiers.

MRS. BUSH: I know Kentucky has lost soldiers. I've been to Fort Campbell a number of times. I gave the commencement address last year at the high school in Fort Campbell, where a lot of those kids' parents were deployed. And I know how tough it is. I know what the burden is on the families of service men and women, and I know you all do, because you're in a state with a very, very large military installation. And I know and I'm already sure that the people of Kentucky are supporting those families every way they can, emotionally and in every way they can support them by giving sympathy to them. But also by helping them in the most practical ways they can.

This is very difficult. You know, we don't know what hazards we face in the future. But we do know how important it is to stay the course. I think the President said it the other day when he gave the press conference how I think in many ways I feel like we don't have a choice. We have to stay with the Iraqi people, we have to stay on the side against terror and against violence. And it's not something we can put off for another time. And it's just a sad fact of life right now in the United States.

But I also am very aware, and I know he is, because we travel around the country, because we've visited a number of military bases including Fort Campbell all over the country, you know, we know how much courage and strength our American service men and women have. We know how much courage and grace their families have as they deal with these times of very, very high anxiety and fear.

And I also know how strong and resolute the American people are. And that's what I see, that's what I get to see every day when I travel around our country.

Q Mrs. Bush, as a mother, what do you have to say to these mothers who lost their sons, their daughters --

MRS. BUSH: You know, of course, I tell them what I would tell anyone who lost a child and that is, that they have my prayers, that they have my deepest sympathy, and they have my respect. And I want -- you know, I hope that their neighbors and their loved ones and everyone who is close to them will put their arms around them and try to build them up. This is very, very difficult, as I said.

Q Mrs. Bush, could you talk a little bit about the fundraiser you went to already earlier today? About how much money was raised? And also there are a lot of folks here --

MRS. BUSH: Kentucky is a very important state. Can you tell? We have a whole lot of friends in Kentucky and we love to visit here. We've been here a lot. A lot of my travel here has been to Fort Campbell, but my husband has visited towns. He's been to Paducah and other places here in Kentucky.

I'm not sure exactly how much money was raised. It's a fundraiser for the Republican Party.

Q Mrs. Bush, with what's been going on in Iraq and the new Woodward book coming out, the kind of criticism that your husband and his administration are receiving, does that start other wear on him and, in turn, you at all?

MRS. BUSH: You know, it really just gets to be a fact of life in American politics. And we know that. We've been associated with politics for our whole married life. George -- before that, before we were married, his dad was a congressman. He worked on his campaigns.

Do you like it? No, of course not. But you know, I feel -- I know that my husband has the strength and the character to be President. I've watched him. I know how steady he is. And it's never easy. Any time people think about running for political office, for any office, for mayor, for council member, it's not easy. It's a job where people do the very best they can, they make the best decisions they can for their communities. And they will always be criticized. That's just how it is. Every decision you make has detractors, people who don't like that decision as well as people who do admire those decisions. But it's just what happens in politics.

But on the other hand, there are a lot of really good things that happen. There's a real chance to be able to be constructive for our country and do things that are really great for our country. And that's what I've gotten to see. I also really had -- and my husband has too -- the chance to meet people all over our country who aren't waiting for the government to do something, who see a need in their community and take action. And that's really what the American character and American spirit are. And we are privileged to get to see that everywhere.

Q Mrs. Bush, the former First Lady was criticized for how she handled the job that you now have being First Lady. How would you redefine the role that you have taken on?

MRS. BUSH: Well, I don't really like the word "role," because I think that sounds like an act that you're playing. And the fact is, what's happened with all of our First Ladies that we know, certainly the ones that we've watched in our lifetimes, is that they lived their lives and we watched them and we benefitted from the way they lived their lives.

I often think about Betty Ford. Shortly after her husband became President -- and he was not elected, if you'll remember. He was appointed Vice President and when President Nixon resigned, he became President. Three or four weeks after she moved into the White House, she found out she had breast cancer. And it was a time when no one discussed breast cancer. It was really taboo to even mention it.

And just by the very act of her strength of character and her willingness to talk to the American people about a disease that she suffered from, she really changed the way all of us -- especially the way women look at breast cancer and the way women live with breast cancer.

So I think what really happens is we watch the people in the White House live their lives and we learn lessons from them.

Q And what have you learned so far, then?

MRS. BUSH: Well, I've learned a lot. Of course, I had a great role model, my own mother-in-law. So what I just said is what I've learned, and that is how strong and resolute the American people are and how much grace the American people have and how generous the American people are. And that's what I see when I travel around the country.

Okay, thank you all very much. And congratulations to Kentucky. Congratulations to all these communities that are now Preserve America communities. Thanks you all, thanks for coming out here.

END 2:52 P.M. EDT

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