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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
June 18, 2004

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Bush-Cheney '04 Rally in Mayfield Heights, Ohio
The Landerhaven
Mayfield Heights, Ohio

9:25 A.M. EDT

MRS. BUSH: Thanks, everybody. Thank you all. And thanks very much to my friend and your First Lady, Hope Taft. Hope actually never mentions it in our introductions, but we went to the same college and we were sorority sisters at the same time, so we have a long history of friendship. We were just interrupted in those few years between college and when our husbands were elected governor.

But I'm so happy to be here in Ohio today, to be with all of you and to talk to you about why it's so important to reelect George W. Bush. (Applause.)

The President and I first traveled together in a campaign back in 1978 when George was running for Congress. Newly married, we spent a lot of time in our car, driving up and down the panhandle of West Texas. Believe me, you learn a lot about your husband when you spend that much time in a car with him. (Laughter.) By the end of the campaign, he had even convinced me to vote for him. (Laughter.)

And now, this is our last campaign. Being on the campaign trail isn't what it used to be. These days, we travel in a very nice airplane. And George isn't behind the wheel anymore. (Laughter.) But we still love the very best part of the campaign and that's the people, the wonderful people we meet all across our country. Thank you all very, very much for coming out early this morning to see me today. (Applause.)

I'm so happy to see Hope Taft today, and Lieutenant Governor Bradley -- she's over here -- there she is, right there. (Applause.) Thank you so much, Governor, for being here with us.

Secretary of State Blackwell is here. Mayor Hruby, Mayor Sutherland and Mayor Clough are all here. (Applause.) We have congressional candidate Ed Herman, a decorated veteran and a determined leader. (Applause.) Please work for Ed and please support Congressman LaTourette to make sure he is reelected as well. (Applause.) And when you go to the polls, don't forget Judge Lanzinger for the Ohio Supreme Court. Judge, thank you for your beautiful invocation. (Applause.)

And thanks also to the members of the Cleveland Institute of Music String Quartet for their very spirited performance. (Applause.)

Back stage, I met with a great group of women who are part of our W Stands for Women effort. Over the next few months, they'll be talking to their friends and neighbors about the President's achievements for women in America and across the world, and they've got a lot to talk about.

They join thousands of volunteers who are talking about the President's positive agenda and getting their neighbors to the polls. And George and I want to thank each and every one of you, everyone who is here today, for your help in his campaign.

I know that you see what I see: The President is a leader for these historic times. The President is hopeful about our future, because he has tremendous confidence in the American people. He has a good and compassionate heart.

When he took office, he was determined to accomplish great goals on behalf of the American people. At the time, we couldn't possibly have imagined how challenging these last three years would be. But I've known George Bush for nearly 30 years, and I've known for every second of our time at the White House that he has the character and the courage to meet the demands of this time. (Applause.)

On taxes, on health care and education, on promoting compassion at home and democracy abroad, the President has stood solidly on the side of the people who are working to make life better for themselves and for their neighbors. Thanks to the President's tax relief plan, millions of families are keeping more of their own money and they're deciding how to use it. In some families, tax relief means more money to pay the monthly bills. In other families, it means money to start a college fund for their children or a retirement fund for themselves. For small business owners, tax relief means expanding their operations and adding jobs. These millions of individual decisions are lifting our economy and improving the lives of people around the country. (Applause.)

And the economy -- the economy just keeps getting better. We're experiencing the fastest economic growth in 20 years. (Applause.) The home ownership rate is at the highest level ever. Minority home ownership is particularly strong. And I am proud that we've set a new record in the first quarter of this year. Now more than half of all minority families own their own homes. (Applause.)

And since August, more than 1.4 million new jobs have been created. The record is clear. More Americans are proud to be back on the job thanks to our lifting economy. (Applause.)

And the President understands that reliable health care is fundamental to our economic security. No one can feel confident about the future if they fear that the next illness might wipe out their savings or drive them into debt.

That's why the President is taking action to make health care more affordable and more accessible to millions of Americans. He worked with Congress to add a prescription drug benefit to Medicare to help seniors afford their medicines. He's expanding health care options, health insurance options for Americans, promoting new ideas like health savings accounts.

And the President has proposed a plan to reform the medical liability system to reduce junk lawsuits. (Applause.) These junk lawsuits drive up the cost of medicine, and they drive good doctors out of their practice.

Education is also close to the President's heart and to mine. From day one, the President has been a friend to parents and teachers who want to improve America's schools. My husband is so committed to education because he looks at schools the way a parent looks at schools. He wants to make sure that children who are at risk of being left behind get the help they need to be successful students.

The No Child Left Behind Act, which was signed right here in Ohio, is bringing more money, higher standards and stronger accountability to schools throughout America. (Applause.) The President and I have spent a lot of time traveling to schools around our country, talking with teachers and parents who devote every day to our children. During these school visits, I've seen the President reading with children, encouraging them as they go through their lessons, talking to them about the importance of going to college.

And because learning is lifelong, the President announced a plan to expand job training partnerships between community colleges and local businesses and other private sector organizations. Whether you're a new high school graduate who needs high-tech training, or a single mom trying to find a better paying job, or a factory worker who wants to learn new skills, the President's job training proposals will help Americans succeed in the best jobs of the new economy.

My husband has always believed that government can be a force for tremendous good in society, and he appreciates the great work that's done outside of government by compassionate citizens who recognize a need in their community and don't wait for government, but just take action and do something about it themselves. And that's what happens all over the United States. (Applause.)

George and I have seen first hand the good and generous hearts of the American people. Compassion and ingenuity are being put to work all over this country to lift up lives, from the mentoring of children of prisoners to bringing meals and a few minutes of friendly conversation to our elderly neighbors. America rises to meet every challenge, and we have a boundless capacity to improve the lives of the people around us.

As we help our neighbors at home, we also are sharing the blessings of liberty with our neighbors abroad. The terrible acts of September 11th showed us the face of evil in the world, but they also called us to the great work of promoting freedom and democracy in the far corners of the world. Today, 50 million more men, women and children live in freedom thanks to the United States of America. (Applause.)

From the very night of September 11th, when George and I were reunited at the White House, I've seen his character and his courage lead his efforts. The President organized a broad coalition of different countries to remove the Taliban from Afghanistan, al Qaeda's biggest supporters were driven from power and the people of Afghanistan are liberated from their oppressors.

Today, women can walk freely on the streets in public without male supervision. And millions of girls are going to school, many for the first times in their lives in Afghanistan. (Applause.) And Afghanistan's new constitution protects the rights of all people to vote and to speak freely.

Last week, the President and I hosted the G8 summit in Sea Island, Georgia. And one day, I hosted a roundtable for the spouses that were there, Cherie Blair from Britain and Ludmilla Putin from Russia and Madame Chirac from France, and Sheila Martin from Canada. And we were joined by some remarkable women, including a woman who serves on the Iraqi Governing Council, and a woman who serves on the Afghan Governing Council, and a young woman who is here studying in the United States, as a new group of Iraqi Fulbright scholars that are now studying here. And she told us about particularly the brutality of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

She had grown up on the Iraq-Iranian border. And when the war between Iraq and Iran started, Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons on her community, which was there on the border. And she was a little four-year-old girl and she drank water from the street -- she got separated from her family -- and went blind for four months because she took such a large dose of the chemical from drinking.

But now, she's studying in the United States of America. And she wanted everyone to know that Iraq is a country of 25 million people. She thinks the picture we're getting on television is not right -- a country of 25 million people and each have their own hope for the future. (Applause.)

In Iraq, the brave men and women of our military, along with our allies from many nations, toppled Saddam Hussein's government and liberated the Iraqi people. They are now free from the tyranny of a brutal regime and they're full of hope for a new government. (Applause.)

At the end of this month, new Iraqi leaders will begin making their own decisions about security, economic progress and other issues that are important to their citizens. President Bush met with the new Iraqi President at the G8 summit. The Iraqi President thanked the United States and especially the men and women of our military for their sacrifices. And last week, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution pledging the U.N.'s help in making the new government a success and paving the way for free and fair elections in Iraq beginning in the new year. (Applause.)

Thanks to the tremendous work of our coalition, this is a time of great promise for the people of Iraq. Will there be many difficulties ahead? Of course. But freedom's worth it. (Applause.)

I'm proud of my husband for recognizing the new realities of the world and for taking action to meet them. I'm proud of my husband for so many reasons, not least of which is the dignity and respect he shows for every single person he meets, the same dignity and respect he has for the office he holds. (Applause.)

He has worked hard on behalf of Americans from the day he took the Oath of Office, and now it's our time to go to work for him. (Applause.) All of you can contribute so much to our campaign by simply getting the word out about the President's record of his accomplishments and his vision for the future. Please talk to your neighbors and your friends, sign up with the campaign here in Ohio, make phone calls or go door to door bringing the President's message to voters. Everything you do to reach voters and to get them to the polls will be a huge help for the President's campaign.

These are hopeful times for Americans. We look to the future with great confidence in our ability to overcome challenges. And these are times that require particularly strong and determined leaders. I'm proud that my husband is that kind of leader. (Applause.)

Thank you all. Thank you so much. Thank you for working to reelect President Bush. And may God bless you and may God continue to bless America. Thank you for your friendship.

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