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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
September 14, 2004

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at a Victory '04 Rally in Des Moines, Iowa
Polk County Convention Center
Des Moines, Iowa

3:03 P.M. CDT

MRS. BUSH: Thank you all so much for being out here with me today. I really appreciate it. And thank you very much, Senator Lamberti, for your kind introduction, and also for your leadership as Senate President. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

And special thanks to all the state senators and representatives who are here with us today sitting behind me. We have Senator Nancy Boettger, Senator Patricia Ward -- I hope you all are waving. (Laughter.) Representative Carmine Boal, Representative Jodi Tymeson, and Representative Linda Upmeyer, thank you all so very much for being with me. (Applause.)

Also, Nancy Thompson is with us. Her husband, Stan, is a congressional candidate here in Iowa. And thank you, Nancy. (Applause.)

And I want to thank each and every one of you out here in the crowd, because I know you're working hard to reelect President Bush and to make sure he leads our country for four more years. (Applause.) And I'm so happy to be in Des Moines today to talk to all of you about why it's so important to reelect President Bush.

George and I love visiting Iowa. We have so many wonderful memories of Iowa from all those years that we campaigned here for President Reagan, President Bush and President Bush. (Laughter and applause.) And we love visiting the heartland of America. And, don't worry, we'll be back a lot between now and November 2nd. (Applause.)

Four years ago, the race here in Iowa ended up very, very close. This year, President Bush is going to win the state of Iowa on November 2nd. (Applause.)

George and I first traveled together on the campaign trail when he was running for Congress back in Midland in 1978. newly married, we spent all our time driving up and down the panhandle of West Texas. George was driving in his Oldsmobile Cutlass. And, 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. This time, I don't need any convincing. (Applause.)

I've watched as my husband has led our country with strength and conviction through some of the most difficult struggles of our generation. I've watched him take decisive action to lead us out of recession with the largest tax relief in a generation. (Applause.) And thanks to my husband's commitment to tax relief, we've added 1.7 million jobs since last August. That's more than Germany, Japan, England, Canada and France added, combined. (Applause.)

The unemployment rate has fallen to 5.4 nationally, and to 4.4 for here in Iowa, which really shows how great the workers are here. (Applause.) And today, we have a new record and that is more Americans own their own home than at any time in our history before. (Applause.)

I've watched as our schools have improved, with high standards and accountability and increased funding so that every child in every neighborhood can succeed. And I've watched as my husband has made the tough decisions that have helped safeguard our children from terror and have helped liberate people from tyranny. (Applause.)

We've been through some historic times together in the last four years. And these are also times of change that require new ideas to move America forward. Today, in many families, both parents are working full time outside of the home. Two-thirds of all mothers now work outside of the home. And more single parents are doing double duty alone.

More entrepreneurs are starting their own businesses, while workers are changing jobs more often and going back to school to keep up with our changing economy. And we're also living longer.

In New York, President Bush outlined his agenda for a new term. Helping families face the challenges of our changing world is at the heart of the President's plan. And every one of us know that all opportunity starts with education.

We all want our children to go to the best schools and to learn the skills they need for a lifetime of success. And we want our students in high schools to be well prepared to go on to college or to join the work force. President Bush knows that we need to strengthen math and science education and broaden Internet learning so that young people can compete with the jobs of the 21st century.

For workers who want to go back to school to learn new skills, the President will work with community colleges to make career training available all over our country. (Applause.) And because higher education is the dream of so many, he'll work to make Pell grants more available so that all Americans can get a college diploma if they want one. (Applause.)

And when these graduates enter the work force, I'm proud to say that a lot of them will go to work for a woman boss. (Applause.) Ten million women in America own their own business, and this sisterhood just keeps growing. Women are opening businesses at twice the rate of men. And they employ more than 19 million employees.

In August, I met Carmela Chifos, who is a woman in Iowa who owns a tow truck company. Carmela spent nearly two decades with her father, building their company from a part-time hobby with one truck to a full-time business with two dozen trucks.

Carmela told me -- and I love this quote -- if you're determined and you want to work hard, you can do anything you want to. That's the beautiful thing about America. (Applause.)

Small business owners like Carmela are an inspiration to us all, and my husband wants all Americans to be able to share their success. The President knows that starts with keeping taxes low. (Applause.) Already, small business owners have each saved an average of $3,000 this year alone. With capital gains tax relief passed last year, Carmela was able to buy her business from her father and some day she hopes to pass her business on to her two children.

Tax relief is critical to helping business owners save and invest and expand their operations. Many of you know that small business owners are either sole proprietorships or a sub-S corp and they are taxed just with regular income tax. So when tax relief -- when you talk about tax relief, these business owners are getting tax relief so they can expand their operations and hire more people.

My husband also wants to provide workers with something we never have enough of, and that's time -- time to play with our kids, to take care of our parents, or to volunteer in our communities. President Bush will work with Congress to make flex time and comp time more available so that Americans can better manage the demands of work and family. (Applause.)

President Bush also wants all families, especially families in rural areas, to have access to the best and most affordable health care. For too long, doctors in rural areas were paid less for their services under Medicare than doctors who performed the same services in bigger cities. Rural doctors were often forced to move their practice, and hospitals couldn't attract talented physicians.

After Congress spent years arguing over Medicare, President Bush brought Republicans and Democrats together to increase reimbursements for doctors and hospitals in rural areas. (Applause.) And your Senator Grassley was also instrumental in the Medicare Reform Act. (Applause.)

Under the new Medicare law, hospitals in Des Moines will receive an additional $56.5 million in Medicare payments over the next 10 years, while hospitals across Iowa will receive an extra $141 million in payments. This is vitally important for medical centers like Broadlawns, which is here, where many patients are uninsured. Medicare funding is essential to keeping hospitals open for Iowa families. (Applause.)

America has the best health care in the world and my husband believes that it's time to put care back into the hands of patients and doctors. (Applause.)

Medical liability reform is also very important. When I traveled to Philadelphia a few weeks ago, I met Erin Zezzo, who learned about medical liability in 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 had to find a new doctor while she was six months pregnant.

Frivolous lawsuits raise the cost of health care and they 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.)

All of these issues are important in our country. But as we grieve with the families in Russia and as we mark 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.)

The terrible acts of September 11th showed us the threat we face, but they also called us to the great work of promoting freedom and democracy in far corners of the world. President Bush wants our men and women in uniform and their families to know how much we appreciate their service. We appreciate the dedication of courageous Americans like retired Captain Kristin Macy of the 422nd Fourth Army hospital who is with us today. (Applause.)

Captain Macy, you and all of our military families are in our thoughts and prayers. As we do the hard work of confronting terror, we can be proud that today 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 own homes by the Taliban, the women of Afghanistan can now walk outside of their houses without a male escort. (Applause.) And after being denied an education, even the chance to learn to read, little girls in Afghanistan are now in school. 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 and the Iraqi interim government is preparing for national elections in January. We still face many challenges in Iraq and Afghanistan every day, but we know that the defeat of terror there is vital to the defeat of terror around the world. And we have pledged to stand with the Iraqi and Afghan people during this historic time for their nations.

As we stand with the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, we must remember that building a democracy takes time. Think how long it took us in our country, even though we were given a perfect document by our founders, it still took almost a hundred years after our founders declared that all men are created equal to abolish slavery. 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 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 and stronger and more hopeful. And he'll continue to work and do the great and privileged work of leading America forward while holding on to our timeless ideals.

I want to encourage each one of you to talk to your neighbors about the President's accomplishments. Reach out to Democrats and Independents who appreciate strong and optimistic leadership. Make sure your friends are registered to vote and then turn them out at the polls. Everything you do will be a huge help to 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 gained a new appreciation of the many blessings of America, and we've been reminded of the responsibilities we have to the country we love.

George and I grew up in West Texas where the sky seems endless and so do the possibilities. 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.)

Thank you all so much. Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you all, and may God bless America. Thank you so much. (Applause.)

3:22 P.M. CDT

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