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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
September 10, 2004

Remarks by First Lady Laura Bush at Bush-Cheney '04 W Stands for Women Rally
Franco-American Heritage Center
Lewiston, Maine

11:36 A.M. EDT

MRS. BUSH: MRS. BUSH: Thank you, Jenna, for that very sweet introduction. One of the great things about having the girls on the campaign trail with us now is getting to hear them talk about how much they love us -- (laughter) -- and in public, no less.

Thank you all. Thanks everyone here very, very much for your very warm welcome. And thank you for the privilege you've given my husband and me of serving this great country. (Applause.) I'm so happy to be surrounded by strong women who are working so hard to make a difference in their communities and in our country. And two such women are also two of Maine's highest leaders. Special thanks to my friends Senator Olympia Snowe and Senator Susan Collins. (Applause.) Thanks also to Congressional candidate Brian Hamel for joining us -- (applause). And to Carolyn Cianchette and her husband, Peter for leading the campaign's efforts here in Maine. (Applause.)

President Bush and I also appreciate the hard work of Kathy Watson and Karen Raye -? (applause) -- and the many volunteers who are getting out the word about the President's accomplishments. Thank you very, very much. (Applause.)

I'm so happy to have this chance to be in Maine to talk about why it's so important to reelect President Bush. Maine is a beautiful state. It's one with its own distinct character -? and the people who live here are unique characters as well. (Applause.) I know; I happen to be related to a few of them. (Laughter and applause.

As all of you know, the Bush family has made Maine -- neighboring Kennebunkport -- their home for generations. And our daughters, Barbara and Jenna, have spent every summer of their life here in the state of Maine. (Applause.)

We're all kids again in Maine. Two summers ago, we visited George's parents here to celebrate the 4th of July. George woke up at 6:00 a.m. as usual and padded downstairs for a cup of coffee. Then he went into his parents' bedroom and sat down on the sofa and put his feet up. And all of a sudden, Barbara Bush hollered, "Put your feet down." (Laughter.) George's dad said, "For Goodness sake, Barbara, he's the President of the United States." (Laughter.) And Bar replied, "I don't care, I don't want his feet on my coffee table." (Laughter and applause.) So you see -- even Presidents have to listen to their mothers. (Laughter.)

But President Bush doesn't just listen to his mother. My husband knows that empowered women are vital to a democracy and to our country's economic security. (Applause.) As we look around the world, we can see how important women are to building a democracy and how fortunate we are in the United States that women are empowered. (Applause.)

I'm proud that in my husband's administration, there are more women in senior positions than in any other presidential administration in history. (Applause.) Dr. Condoleezza Rice advises the President on foreign policy and Margaret Spellings is in charge of domestic policy. That means in the White House, women are in charge of everything abroad and everything at home. And that sounds just about right to me. (Applause.)

And it's not just that way in the White House. Across America, millions of women are raising families, working full time, going to college, starting their own businesses, and caring for their parents. And some women are doing all of these things at the same time. Women's roles have changed dramatically from just a few decades ago. There are more single moms doing double duty. There are more women in college and more women entrepreneurs. More single women live independently. Women are also living longer and we have more opportunity than ever before.

My husband wants to extend this opportunity to every corner of America, so that all Americans have a chance to participate in the ownership society. Last week in New York, President Bush outlined his agenda for a new term. Helping women and families face the challenges of our changing world is at the heart of the President's plan.

And all of you know, all of us know, that all opportunity starts with education -- and all women deserve to go to college if they choose, and to learn good job skills so that they can work in our evolving workforce. Many full-time moms find that after the last child leaves the nest, they want to start a new career. And for some women, this means going back to school to learn new skills. The President wants to work with community colleges to make career training more accessible for all Americans. And Maine has an excellent community college system. (Applause.)

And because higher education is a lifelong dream for so many, the President wants more Pell grants available so that more Americans can get their college diploma. And when these graduates enter the workforce, many of them will go to work for a woman. Ten million women own their own business in America, and this sisterhood just keeps growing. Women are opening businesses at twice the rate of men, and they employ more than 19 million employees.

Last month, I met a business owner, Nancy Garberson, of Cedar Rapids. Several years ago, Nancy left a fast-paced marketing agency in Chicago to be a full-time mom. She enjoyed taking her children to school and tucking her daughters into bed. But she still missed working. So with her husband's support, she started an advertising business in the spare bedroom of their house. Today, she manages an agency with a full-service public relations department and 15 employees. And Nancy credits our growing economy for enabling her to open a new office.

Small business owners like Nancy are some of the hardest working people in America, and my husband wants to enable all women to share in their success. This starts with keeping taxes low. (Applause.) Many may not realize that single proprietors and S corps, which is what a lot of small businesses are, are taxed just like regular income tax, so that tax relief really helps small businesses. In fact, small business owners have each saved an average of $3,000 this year alone. (Applause.)

Women are investing this extra money, they're expanding their operations, and they're inspiring other women who want to own their own business. My husband also wants to help working moms and dads keep something they never have enough of, and that's time -- time to play with their kids or time to take care of their parents. Working mothers shouldn't have to use vacation time to take their children to the doctor. President Bush will work with Congress to make flex time and comp time available so that more Americans can better manage the demands of work and family. (Applause.)

Another important issue for women is affordable and accessible health care. It's estimated that women make up to 70 percent of their families' financial and health care decisions. And it can be tough to make those decisions when you're not in control of your health coverage, or when you can't choose your own doctor. The President is making health care more accessible with ideas like health savings accounts. (Applause.) These plans enable people to save tax-free for routine medical expenses like eyeglasses or routine doctor visits. Women can take these accounts with them if they start a new job or if they leave work to have a child. This is health care that we own and we manage and we keep.

Another growing crisis that is of particular concern to women is medical liability reform. When I traveled to Philadelphia a few weeks ago, I met Erin Zezzo, who learned about junk lawsuits the hard way. Erin had a trusting relationship with her OB-GYN, who had delivered her first two children.

Shortly into her third pregnancy, Erin's doctor had to stop delivering babies because he couldn't afford his medical liability insurance. Erin was forced to find a new doctor while she was six months pregnant.

Frivolous lawsuits raise the costs of health care and drive good doctors out of practice. To help doctors and women like Erin, President Bush will work to reform the medical liability system and reduce junk lawsuits. (Applause.)

Women are also living longer today, and it's more important than ever that we can own and manage our own retirement plans. President Bush wants to enable younger workers to create personal retirement accounts -- their choice -- in Social Security that they can manage and then they can pass along to their spouse or children. (Applause.)

All of these issues are important to women, to our families, and to the strength of our nation. But as we grieve for the families in Russia, and as we approach the third anniversary of September 11th, I believe what's most important is my husband's work to protect our country and to defeat terror around the world. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

MRS. BUSH: The terrible acts of September 11th showed us the threat we face, but they also called us to the great work of promoting freedom in far corners of the world. President Bush and I want all of our men and women in uniform and their families to know how much all Americans appreciate their service. (Applause.)

We appreciate the dedication of courageous Americans like Army Reserve Sergeant Tim Martin, who is serving in Iraq. (Applause.) His wife Krystie is here with us today. (Applause.)

Krystie, your husband and all of our troops and their families are in our prayers. Please email him and tell him, thank you very much for his service. (Applause.)

Sergeant Martin can be proud that as we do the hard work of confronting terror, 50 million more men, women and children live in freedom thanks to the United States of America and our allies. (Applause.)

After years of being treated as virtual prisoners in their homes by the Taliban, the women of Afghanistan are now able to leave their houses without a male escort. And after being denied an education, even the chance to learn to read, the little girls in Afghanistan are now in school. (Applause.) More than 10 million Afghan citizens have registered to vote in this fall's presidential election, and more than 40 percent of that number are women. (Applause.)

Because we acted, the people of Iraq are now free from the tyranny of a brutal dictator. The Iraqi interim government is preparing for national elections in January. And we have pledged to stand with the Iraqi people during this historic and hopeful time for their nation. We know there are many, many challenges that we'll still face, but we know that to help building a democracy is right. We remember in our own history that building a democracy takes time. Think of how long it took us in our country, even though we were given a perfect document by our founders. (Applause.)

It took almost 100 years after our founders declared that all men are created equal to abolish slavery in the United States -- and not until 84 years ago did American women get the right to vote. (Applause.)

Our nation has not always lived up to its ideals, yet those ideals have never ceased to guide us. We are the beneficiaries of the works of the generations before us, and it's our responsibility to continue that work. My husband believes that there's more to do to make our country safer, stronger, and more hopeful. And he will continue the great and privileged work of leading America forward while holding true to our timeless ideals. (Applause.)

I want to encourage each of you to talk to your neighbors and your friends about the President's accomplishments and his plans for the future. Reach out to Democrats and Independents who appreciate strong and optimistic leadership. 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 times of change for our nation -- and these are also years of promise. We have great confidence in our ability to overcome challenges. We've gained a new appreciation for the many blessings of America, and we've been reminded of our responsibilities to the country we love.

George and I grew up in the same small town, in Midland, Texas, where the sky seems endless and so do the possibilities. Little did I know when I was growing up there that I would literally marry the boy next door. (Laughter.) But after 27 years of marriage, I can tell you that my husband brings that optimism, that sense of purpose, that certainty that a better day is before us, to his job every day. And with your help, he'll do it for four more years. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

MRS. BUSH: Thank you all, may God bless you and may God bless America. (Applause.)

END 11:55 A.M. EDT

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