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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 24, 2006

11:40 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thanks for coming. Please be seated. I wish

Dan had said, a friend of longstanding -- (laughter) -- as opposed to

"an old friend." I knew him when he lived in Texas. You've got a good

one running Marshall University here. He's a fine fellow. He's doing

a fine job. (Applause.)

I'm proud to be back in Huntington. We're going to have an

interesting discussion about how to make sure people have an

opportunity to get the skills necessary to fill the jobs of the 21st

century. That's really what we're here to talk about. We're going to

talk about how to make sure everybody's life is optimistic and

hopeful, as this economy of ours grows and changes.

A perfect place to do so here is at this community college, and

I'm so honored to have been invited. Thank you for opening up your

fantastic facility, and thank you for giving me a chance to come and


By the way, right as I walked in -- I want to thank the sisters.

One of them said to me, probably the most important thing a President

can hear, is she said, "Mr. President, I'm praying for you." Thank

you. (Applause.)

I want to thank the state and local officials who are here.

Thanks for coming by to say hello. I think that when you finish

hearing this discussion, you're going to realize what an important

asset you have in the community college system of West Virginia, and

how the federal government and employers can work together with the

community colleges to make sure people get the skills necessary to

take advantage of an expanding job base.

I met a lady coming in named Robin Black. She was out there at

the airport. The reason I mention Robin is, a lot of times people

say, the strength of America is our military. And that's a part of

our strength, and by the way, it is strong and we intend to keep it

strong. (Applause.) Or they say, the strength of America is the fact

that we're a wealthy nation. And that's important, as well. But the

true strength of the nation is the hearts and souls of our citizens.

That's the true strength of America. And the reason I mention Robin

Black is that she's a volunteer. Robin's sitting right there, by the

way. She's a volunteer to help people going for a job interview to

look as good as they possibly can, to understand what to say. She's a

mentor to people who need help.

No, the strength of this country is the fact that we've got

citizens from all walks of life who are willing to love a neighbor

just like they'd like to be loved themselves, who are willing to work

to change America one heart and one soul at a time. If you're one of

those soldiers in the army of compassion, I thank you for doing what

you're doing. You're making a difference to our country, just like

you are, Robin. Thank you. (Applause.)

I'm an optimist, because I fully understand America's strengths

and I've seen what we've come through. I want to remind you right

quick what has happened to this country, what our economy has been

through, what the America people have had to endure over the last

three years. We went through a recession. That means things were

going backwards. That means three quarters of negative growth. Now,

if you're a small business owner, it's difficult to survive in a

recession. If you're somebody looking for a job, it's hard to find a

job during a recession. But we acted and we cut the taxes on the

people, which made the recession one of the shallowest recessions in

economic history. (Applause.)

And then, as we were recovering from the recession, the enemy

hit us. They attacked us. And it affected us. It affected our way

of thinking, for starters. See, when most of us were growing up, we

thought oceans could protect us, and we found out that wasn't the

case. We found out that America could be harmed by people who hate

what we stand for. We suffered for those who lost life. I vowed then

and there that the best way to protect America was to get on the

offense and stay on the offense and bring people to justice.

(Applause.) We resolved, as a nation, not to allow terrorists to

cause us to lose our optimism and our spirit. That's what we

resolved. And we still have that spirit and resolve, by the way.

And then we found out we had some corporate citizens who didn't

tell the truth. That affected our economy. It kind of shattered our

idealism about people in positions of responsibility. We passed tough

laws, by the way. We're not going to tolerate dishonesty in the

boardrooms of America. There will be consequences if you lie to your

shareholders and your employees. (Applause.) But it affected us. It

was a hurdle we had to cross. It was a challenge to our economy.

And then, as you know, I made the decision to remove Saddam

Hussein from power. Let me tell you -- (applause.) One of the

important -- one of the important lessons of September the 11th, and

it's important for people to understand, is that when we see a threat,

we cannot let it materialize. That's an important lesson. I saw a

threat -- I looked at intelligence and saw a threat. The United

States Congress looked at the same intelligence and it saw a threat.

The United Nations Security Council looked at the intelligence and it

saw a threat. People were worried about Saddam Hussein because of his

past behavior. Remember, he had used weapons of mass destruction

against his neighbors and his own people. I remembered the lesson of

September the 11th as I looked at the data. I had a choice, either to

trust a madman or defend the country. Given that choice, I'll defend

America every time. (Applause.)

We've still got hard work in Iraq. The reason we do is there's

killers there who want to shake our will. They want the American

people to forget what it means to promote freedom. They want us to

retreat. See, a free Iraq is an historic opportunity. A free Iraq

will change a neighborhood that needs to be free. A free Iraq will

make the world more peaceful. But a free Iraq is something that the

terrorists fear. They hate freedom. They can't stand the thought of

a free society. So they're willing to kill. And they're trying to

shake our will. But they don't understand this country. We will

never be intimidated by thugs and assassins. (Applause.)

This country will stay the course and get the job done. We will

get the job done. (Applause.) Laura reminded me one time, she said,

do you remember what it was like in the summer of 2002 when you turned

on your TV sets and saw "March to War"? That's a hurdle that we had

to overcome. You see, it's not good for the economy to be marching to

war. It's good for our security, but it's hard for people to make

investment decisions if you think you're marching to war. It's a

negative thought.

So that was the fourth challenge we faced here in America. We

faced a recession, an attack, corporate scandals and a march to war to

make us more secure. But we've overcome all those challenges, because

the entrepreneurial spirit is strong, because the America people are

great workers, and because of good policy.

One of the things I think really did help, and I look forward to

continuing this dialogue on the subject, is, you see, when a person

has more money in their pocket, they're more likely to demand an

additional good or a service. And when they demand additional good or

a service, somebody's likely to provide the good or a service. And

when somebody provides a good or a service, somebody is more likely to

keep a job or find work.

The tax relief we passed is working. It's making a difference

for this economy. (Applause.) And the reason I say that is, for

example, the homeownership rate is the highest ever. That's really

important. We want people owning their own home. It's a vital part

of our economy.

Small businesses -- the spirit of the small business owner is

strong in America. Remember, when you cut income tax rates on

individuals, you're really affecting most small businesses in America,

because most small businesses are sole proprietorships or subchapter S

corporations, which means they pay tax at the individual income tax

rate. And in that most new jobs are created by small businesses, it

makes sense to have a vibrant small business sector in America. And

the small business sector of this country is strong, and it's growing,

and people are more optimistic about expanding their businesses.

Manufacturing is up. An important statistic besides the growth

statistics is the fact that after-tax income is up by 10 percent since

late 2000. That's good. If you've got more money in your pocket,

that's a good thing. (Applause.)

The economy is growing and people are finding work. Today, the

statistics show that we added 308,000 new jobs for the month of March.

(Applause.) We've added 759,000 jobs since August. This economy is

strong, it is getting stronger. You can understand why I'm optimistic

when I cite these statistics because I remember what we have been

through. We're getting better, and that's important.

There are other things we need to do. We need to make sure the

tax cuts are permanent. (Applause.) Congress doesn't need to be

taking away the child credit or the marriage penalty or the 10 percent

-- or the reduction -- or the increase of those eligible for the

10-percent bracket. We need to make these tax cuts permanent. Small

business owners need to have certainty in the tax code if they're

going to be confident about expanding their businesses.

We need tort reform in America if you're a small business owner.

(Applause.) If we want our jobs to stay here in America and want

people to be able to find work, we better make sure the legal

environment is fair and balanced. Frivolous lawsuits hurt small

business owners. They make it hard for people to expand their

business. We need less regulation.

I wish I could -- I wish I could tell you that every single

piece of paper you fill out is read at the federal level. (Laughter.)

I can't. (Laughter.) If I were to say it is true, a lot of people

would walk right out of the hall. (Laughter.)

We need to make sure that we've got good policies to help

control the cost of health care: medical savings accounts,

association health care plans, and real substantial medical liability

reform at the federal level. (Applause.)

West Virginia's unemployment rate is 5.4 percent, down from 6.4

percent a year ago. The policies are working. (Applause.) There's

more we need to do. There's more we need to do to make sure the job

base here is strong and people can find good jobs right here in

America. We need an energy policy that makes sense. (Applause.)

If you're a small manufacturing company, or big, for that matter

-- manufacturing company, and you're worried about where you're going

to get your electricity from, it's hard to expand your business. It's

hard to expand your business if you're worried about the reliability

of electricity, not just the cost, but whether or not electricity is

going to be reliable. Our electricity system is antiquated. It

wasn't all that long ago, last summer, to be exact, that we started

having rolling blackouts. That affects the ability for people to find

a job when that happens.

We've got a great, abundant resource in coal. And we need to --

(applause.) I came to West Virginia a while ago when I was seeking

the vote. I said, we're going to have a robust, clean coal technology

program funded by the federal government. My budget for this year has

got $447 million in it for clean coal technology. This nation must be

willing to use -- (applause) -- we must be willing to use the

resources we have in a smart way. We put out good regulations for

mining companies to make sure we don't shut down the ability to find

coal, and, by the way, to hurt people finding work. In other words,

we've been responsible, and the most responsible position is to make

us less dependant on foreign sources of energy. (Applause.)

The job base is expanding. We've got a good strategy to keep

expanding. But you've got to remember that as the economy changes,

people need to change with it. Their skill levels need to change.

And one of the big challenges we have is how to make sure we match

people who want to work with the jobs that are available. And that's

what we're going to discuss today.

This is, as I say, this is a time of transition. That's what

the economists say. That's okay to use that word. The problem is, if

you're one of the people that are worried about the transition, we

need to make sure there's a plan to help you. That's what we need to

do. We need to stand with people who want to work and help them gain

the skills necessary so that they can do what they want to do, which

is to put food on the table for their families, to do their jobs as a

responsible adult.

By the way, all job training starts with making sure we get it

right at the elementary and secondary school level. The No Child Left

Behind Act -- (applause.) The No Child Left Behind Act is really

important. It's an important part of making sure that people can read

and write and add and subtract. And we're going to stay on it, by

insisting that, in return for federal money, that we achieve high

standards. See, I believe every child can learn, and I'm against

these systems that just move these kids through and hope that they

learn. We've got a -- we'll say, show us whether or not a child is

learning to read and write and add and subtract early in life. And if

not, there will be the help necessary to make sure not one single

child gets left behind.

If you talk to the educators, they'll tell you, if we can get it

right at the elementary and secondary school level, we'll be able to

get it right at higher education, as well.

Now, the other thing we need to do is recognize that some kids

have been shuffled through and they need remedial help at the high

school level. And we've laid out a good strategy to deal with that.

But I think one of the most exciting strategies is the one I

started to detail in the State of the Union and will continue talking

about next week, which is to make sure the WIA Program, the Work Force

Investment Act, gets money into the classrooms, gets money to the

people so that they can get properly trained for the jobs which exist.

The community college system is an incredibly important part of

the education system in America because the curriculum are flexible.

That means that if an employee or group says, we need these kind of

people, that they're willing to adapt a curriculum to help train

people for the jobs which exist. Vicki Riley is going to tell us what

that means here in a second. It's important for us to make sure

there's collaboration, for example, for high-tech industries, so

people get the skills.

Listen, technology is changing, and it races through our

economy, but work skills don't change as quickly. And that's the

challenge we face. We've got to make sure we get people trained. And

that's what we're here to talk about.

I want people out there listening, to listen to the story of

some of the people who have gone back to school, to realize that that

option is available for you. If you're worried about the job you're

in and you feel like you need a new skill set in order to meet the new

jobs, there's some opportunity for you. There's Pell grants

available. There's scholarship money available. Government can't

make you make up your mind to seek new skills, but we darn sure can

help, and that's what we're here to talk about today.

And a perfect person to start the conversation is Vicki Riley.

She's the provost and CEO of Marshall Community College. She has put

in some very innovative programs.

And, Vicki, thank you for giving me a chance to visit this

beautiful campus.

* * * * *

THE PRESIDENT: I think what Vicki is saying is, is that there

are some fields that are begging for -- looking for workers, best way

to put it. The health care field is such a field. I mean, I have

traveled this country quite extensively and a lot of times I hear

that, gosh, if we only had more skilled nurses, or if we only had more

skilled technicians, we could meet the demands, our needs. And what

Vicki is saying is the community college here has got a curriculum

developed to meet the needs of the health industry here in West

Virginia. And I presume part of the curriculum was developed by the

people doing the hiring.

MS. RILEY: Absolutely. One of the things, again, that is a

strength of community college, is we're connected. We're connected to

business and industry. And those employers sit on our advisory boards

and they tell us what needs to be current; they tell us what they

need; they tell us what we may be missing. And we go back and fix it,

so that they're getting the types of employees they want to hire that

next go-round.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, you see, that's an interesting concept,

isn't it, and it's something people have got to understand, that Vicki

goes out and says, who are you looking for, what kind of skills do you

need, what can we do to adapt our curriculum to your needs. And

that's very important . It's that flexibility which I think makes the

community college system such a vibrant part of the American


That's why I've asked Congress to put up an additional $250

million for collaborative efforts between the community college and

the local employer groups, so people can find the skills. I mean,

after all, it makes sense for government to help people help

themselves. And that's what we're talking about here.

The other thing we can do to make sure Vicki's job is better is

to make sure the paperwork requirements from the federal government

are more streamlined. I mean, they've got all kinds of programs

coming out of -- (applause.)

We have got a student with us named Rina Angus. Now, Rina --

first of all, what were you doing before you became a student?

MS. ANGUS: I was in administrative management at a local health

club in Huntington. And whenever the facility was coming under new

ownership, I decided that that was my time to leave.

THE PRESIDENT: So you made the decision. That's good.

(Laughter.) You're a mom?

MS. ANGUS: Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: Two children?

MS. ANGUS: Yes, sir.


MS. ANGUS: Eleven and 13.

THE PRESIDENT: Whew, yeah, I've been there. (Laughter and

applause.) You have a job, you decide to leave because of the change

in the business, and then what happens?

MS. ANGUS: My husband got laid off.

THE PRESIDENT: Then what happens? So far it's not a very

pretty story.

MS. ANGUS: Well, we prayed a lot and we found out through the

Parkersburg Job Service that there was additional training available,

that we qualified for a program called the Displaced Worker Program.

And when we went for the initial training and interviews, it just

happened that my husband lucked into another job and I qualified for

the program. So they showed me a list of skills that were needed in

the area, the in-demand jobs, and I saw one on there that I had

thought about when I was in high school, and decided to pursue it.

THE PRESIDENT: And what is it?

MS. ANGUS: Radiologic technology in the health field here at



Catch the story, listen to the story. I mean, I think it's a

wonderful story about a mom and a wife who, instead of getting, like

totally distraught with the circumstances, says, I'm going to go back

to school. And there's help for that. The Displaced Worker Program

is part of the federal monies that are available to help people go

back to the community college system.

Was it easy to go back to community college? Was it hard to go

back to school?

MS. ANGUS: Well, it was scary to go back, after being out of

school for 18 years. But with the help of Steve Brown with the adult

recruitment office here at Marshall, he made the transition very

smooth. He told me the classed I needed to get into, he helped me

sign up for them, he directed me where I needed to go. The staff at

Marshall is wonderful. I mean, if you have situations arise with your

children, or an illness, they work with you to let you get your job


THE PRESIDENT: Good. Do you think you're going to make more in

your new job, after having come here, or not? That's a loaded

question. (Laughter.)

MS. ANGUS: Yes. I mean, statistics show that I should double

the salary that I was making before.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Let me pick up on that. That's why the

kind of leading question, as we say. (Laughter.) And I'm not even a

lawyer. (Laughter and applause.) It's important for people who are

listening to realize that if you go back to the community college and

gain new skills for the jobs which exist, not only can you become

employable, you're likely to make more money.

I was at Mesa Community College and met a woman who had been a

graphic design artist for 15 years. She decided to go back to school

in a technological program, got out -- the government helped her --

got out, and she made more in her first year in her new job because of

the skills she had gained, than she made in her 15th year as a graphic

design artist.

You hear a lot of talk about becoming -- productivity. That's

kind of the talk of the economists these days. That means that one

worker can produce more units now than they could have before. But

productivity also means having the skills necessary to work in the new

jobs. And if you're more productive, if the society is more

productive, wealth goes up. And in this case, when Rina gets more

productive, her personal wealth will go up.

Now, you almost through?

MS. ANGUS: I'm completing my first year here at Marshall, the

basic skills program. And I'm currently awaiting an interview at St.

Mary's School of Radiology, where, if I'm accepted, I would start this

summer and complete two years of clinical and classroom training. And

at that time, you take a board certification to become --

THE PRESIDENT: Do you need a recommendation? (Laughter.)

MS. ANGUS: Well, if you're willing to give one. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Okay, you got one. Thanks. Great job.

* * * * *

THE PRESIDENT: Rocky McCoy is with us. Rocky, tell us what you

do. He's got a very interesting job and a great opportunity to help


* * * * *

THE PRESIDENT: That's good. Now, tell me about your board. Do

you have employers on your board?

MR. McCOY: Yes, we do. Yes, we do.

THE PRESIDENT: Like, how many? (Laughter.) Well, not exactly.

MR. McCOY: Our board is made up of -- it's a pretty large

board. There's probably 50-plus, and we're required to have 51

percent of the membership from the private sector.

THE PRESIDENT: Right, that's good.

MR. McCOY: So, we have -- we have several employers that are on

our board.

THE PRESIDENT: How many people do you see, would you say?

MR. McCOY: In the Huntington office, I'd say we see anywhere

from 400-600 people come through our door a month for one-stop

services. It's not necessarily job service; that is for all one-stop

services and all of our partners within our one-stop system.

THE PRESIDENT: Right, what else could people do at the


MR. McCOY: We have the job service, if someone's looking for a

job. We can go through the necessary paperwork, so to speak, to get

-- to find out what a person's skills are and we can refer them out to

jobs that are available. They can -- we also have the veterans

program so --


MR. McCOY: -- if we have any veterans that -- any special

programs for veterans, they can talk to a veterans officer there.

People with disabilities -- we also have the Department of

Rehabilitative Services there. The Department of Health and Human

Resources, if people need some support until they find a job. Senior

employment programs, adult basic education, if a person needs to work

on their GED. And also, the basic skills program, such as

remediation, job-seeking skills, interviewing skills, how to fill out

a resume, and job education.

THE PRESIDENT: See, these services, by the way, used to be

scattered all over. And now he calls it one-stop because you go to

one place. And I appreciate that. Who's hiring?

MR. McCOY: Folks in the health industry, folks in the IT

industry. And there are several smaller businesses that are hiring in

the area.

THE PRESIDENT: That's good. See, there are jobs. And a lot of

people say, I hear there's jobs available, but I don't have the skills

so I'm not going to go look. And Rocky's job and, truth of the

matter, all our jobs, is there's someone available to help you. And

you've got to want to help yourself, like this good lady did. You got

to say, I want to better myself, I want to take advantage of the

opportunity. But Rocky's job is to help steer people to the

opportunities, whether it be the community college, or the jobs which

exist that people don't feel like they need to enhance their skills.

And I appreciate you, Rock. I call you Rock.

MR. McCOY: That's fine. (Laughter.) You can call me whatever

you want. (Laughter and applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: All right, Sally Oxley is with us. Sally is a

small business owner. I love to be with entrepreneurs, people who are

willing to start their own business and dream big dreams; people who

-- and as a result, by the way, of dreaming a dream, gets in a

position, when successful, to hire people. That's one of the

dividends of the entrepreneurial spirit, is people can find work.

Sally, tell us about your business -- how did you get started;

why did you start your own business; how did you find the courage to

start your business; and anything else you want to say.

* * * * *

THE PRESIDENT: By the way, that's not easy. It sounds easy;

it's hard. It requires a good plan, a good strategy, and the

development of a product people need.

MS. OXLEY: And the reason I started my own business was I

wanted to do it my way, I wanted to do it the right way. And that

seemed to be what evolved.

THE PRESIDENT: Good. And are you looking for people?

MS. OXLEY: We are. We're always looking for good people.

* * * * *

THE PRESIDENT: And how is your business doing?

MS. OXLEY: It's growing. We're doing well.

THE PRESIDENT: A lot of old guys like me with kind of aches and

pains. (Laughter.)

MS. OXLEY: A few. Birth to death, is what we say.

THE PRESIDENT: I like that beginning part. (Laughter.)

* * * * *

THE PRESIDENT: I'm glad you're doing well. Thanks for starting

your own business. Thanks for putting people to work. I think it's a

very interesting story, isn't it, that a small business in the health

field connects with the community college in order to do two things --

one, lay out the requirements necessary to hire people, but also

provide an opportunity for on-the-job training.

I appreciate your contribution to the community. It's a great


MS. OXLEY: It's a great community.

THE PRESIDENT: It is a great community. Thanks for coming.


THE PRESIDENT: Bryan Johnson.

MR. JOHNSON: Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: I'm glad you're here.

MR. JOHNSON: Glad to be here, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: They ever call you Red? (Laughter.)

MR. JOHNSON: On several occasions. I haven't figured out why

just yet. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: I'll be the funny guy. (Laughter and applause.)

MR. JOHNSON: If we're going to do the act then, sir, I'll sit

over there on your lap --

THE PRESIDENT: That's right. (Laughter.) Whew! Anyway --

Anyway, Bryan, changing subjects rapidly -- (laughter) -- no longer

verbally dueling with Bryan. (Laughter.) He is the chief information

officer of Mountain State Centers for Independent Living. Tell us

your story, please sir.

* * * * *

THE PRESIDENT: What did you get? What degree did you get here

at Marshall?

MR. JOHNSON: I got the IT degree. And they actually offer --

THE PRESIDENT: Explain what IT means, just in case --

MR. JOHNSON: Yes. Information Technology, which basically

covers computers and networking, and whatnot.

THE PRESIDENT: Now, that sounds like a pretty big leap from a

guy in a restaurant business to the IT business. Was it a big leap?

MR. JOHNSON: You better believe it. When I started -- when I

started in 1998 into the program, I couldn't even tell you how to turn

the computer on. Okay? Now I'm a network engineer.

THE PRESIDENT: That's good.

MR. JOHNSON: Thank you, thank you. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: By the way, did you have to pay for the -- how

did you handle the cost?

MR. JOHNSON: I got student loans, and I also received some

assistance through WIA, as well.

THE PRESIDENT: Right, Work Force Investment Act. A lot of

times, with government things, we talk in initials.

* * * * *

THE PRESIDENT: And so what is your -- with the degree you have,

not only do you provide a -- you're an important employee for the firm

for which you work, you're also now a consultant.

Are you making more money now than in the restaurant business?

MR. JOHNSON: Oh, yes.

THE PRESIDENT: That's really important for people to understand

that, if you come back to Marshall Community College, for example, and

get new skills -- how long did it take you to get them?

MR. JOHNSON: Well, it actually took me four years with this

program, because there are four specializations on the degree, and I

went for all four, because of portability. I will be able to go

anywhere and do anything.

THE PRESIDENT: So you went for the full Monte. (Laughter.)

Most programs don't take four years, I don't think.

* * * * *

THE PRESIDENT: It's very important for people to understand

that, one, the job base is growing in different sectors. You know, I

know workers are worried that, I wish my son or my daughter could have

worked in the same industry I've worked in for all my life. But this

is a changing economy. It's a different economy. It's an economy

that provides great opportunity. However, people are going to have to

seize the moment. And that's what we're here discussing. We're

discussing this sense of providing -- so that people can provide for

their families.

And there's two great examples here of people that could have

decided, well, I don't think I'm going to improve myself, and just

stayed doing what they were doing. But instead, I sense a great deal

of excitement in their voices about having made a decision that was an

important decision, a decision that probably seemed pretty darn hard

at first. But now that you've made it, and you're in the middle of

it, you can recommend it, I suspect.

I love being with an entrepreneur, a job creator, a

compassionate soul who is interested in expanding the work force in a

smart way. I want to thank the local government providing for the

one-stops. Appreciate you running it, Rocky. Or Rock. (Laughter.)

And finally, I'm so honored to have been here at this community

college. Madam President, thanks for opening it up. Thank you for

doing what you're doing. Thank you for providing hope for people,

providing an opportunity for people to take advantage of this exciting

year in which we live.

Finally, I want to conclude by telling you that I talked about

the challenges that faced our country. We'll have other challenges,

too. There's no doubt in my mind this great country will overcome any

challenge put in its path, because this country is great because of

the people of this country.

Thanks for coming. God bless. And God bless our great land.

Thank you. (Applause.)

END 12:21 P.M. EST

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