The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
September 24, 2004

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Victory '04 Rally in Eldridge, Iowa
Eldridge Library
Eldridge, Iowa

9:37 A.M. CDT

MRS. BUSH: Charlotte, thanks very much. Charlotte is getting around really great after just having -- a week after having surgery. Thank you so much, Charlotte. Thank you very much for your hard work. Be seated, everyone.

Thank you very much for your hard work for this library. And thanks also for your hard work for the Bush-Cheney Campaign. I really appreciate that as well.

And I also want to thank all the state representatives and senators who are sitting here behind me. Thank you all very much. And thanks so much to Christine for leading the Pledge of Allegiance.

Thanks to everybody for being here today. I can't think of a better venue for me than to be in a library. Some of my fondest childhood memories are the times I spent reading with my mother. And before I could even see the top of the card catalog, my mother would take me to the Midland County Library in Midland, Texas. And when we would go home, we'd read together all those treasures we found on the library shelves. In one afternoon, we could travel from Texas to Minnesota, reading about Laura Ingalls and her adventures in the Little House in the Big Woods and the Little House on the Prairie.

And, as all of you know, America was really blessed because Andrew Carnegie believed that libraries should foster the mind, the body, and the spirit. And many American libraries started out as Carnegie libraries all across the United States.

This library, like thousands across America, stands as a beacon for freedom and for education. And I want to thank the librarians who are here today. Your job is a really important one. Librarians inform the public and, by doing so, they strengthen our great democracy.

And since Charlotte mentioned it, I also want to mention that the fourth National Book Festival, the Fourth Annual National Book Festival will be on the National Mall on October 9th. And more than 70 authors are invited. And I hope we have at least as many people as we had last year. And I want to invite any of you that want to come to Washington to come on that weekend of October 9th to the National Book Festival.

Besides visiting your beautiful library, the other reason I'm here today is to talk about why it's so important to reelect our great President, George W. Bush. (Applause.) I know that you all see what I see, and that is my husband has the strength of character and conviction to lead our country during these really historic times that we are living in.

We've been through a lot together in the last four years. But today our economy is growing, we're closing the achievement gap in our schools, and America is safer and stronger thanks to President Bush's decisive leadership. (Applause.)

A couple of weeks ago, I visited with a woman entrepreneur in Ohio and she summed up our success this way. She said, "President Bush was born for such a time as this. He never waivers when it comes to doing the right thing. It makes me feel so secure to know that our leader has such a love for our country."

These are times of change. They're historic times but they're also times of change that require new ideas to move America forward. Just think about the differences between our lives today and the lives of our parents or grandparents. Today, in most families, both parents are working outside the home, including two-thirds of all mothers. And more single parents are doing double duty alone.

More entrepreneurs are starting their own businesses and workers are changing jobs often during their lifetime rather than going to work for one company and staying with that company for their whole career. And more people are going back to school to keep up with our changing economy.

At our convention in New York, President Bush outlined his agenda for a new term. And helping families face the challenges of this changing world is at the heart of the President's plan.

We all know, every one of us in this room, that all opportunity starts with education. Thanks to the No Child Left Behind Act, our schools are improving with higher standards, with accountability, and with the most funding ever for elementary and secondary education. More children are reading at grade level and scores in math are improving. We owe much of this success to America's incredible teachers. (Applause.)

In the next four years, my husband wants teachers to be rewarded, teachers who choose to teach in low-income, rural or inner-city schools, and all those teachers who are working hard to close the achievement gap. And he wants our students in high schools to be well prepared for college or the work force with strong skills in math and science.

We know that learning doesn't end with graduation. For workers who want to go back to school to learn the new skills for the jobs of the 21st century, the President will work with community colleges to make sure career training is available and accessible for all Americans. And because higher education is a dream for so many people, he wants more Pell grants to be available, so that many more Americans can earn a college diploma.

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 American women own their own business and this sisterhood just keeps growing.

One of the reasons for this growth is that the President worked to pass the largest tax relief in a generation. (Applause.) I'm so pleased that yesterday the United States Congress voted to extend this tax relief. This gives families and small businesses added certainty to keep on the path to greater prosperity.

Just in case you don't know, a lot of small businesses are either sole proprietorships or sub-S corporations, which means they're taxed with regular income tax. So when you talk about tax relief, you're also talking about the tax cuts that small business owners have gotten, which helps them expand their businesses and to hire more people.

We've added 1.7 million jobs since last August '03, and that's more jobs than Germany, Japan, England, Canada and France added, combined. (Applause.)

In August, here in your state, I met Carmela Chiafos who is the only woman -- we think the only woman in Iowa to own a towing company. (Laughter.) 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.

With the capital gains tax passed last year, Carmela was able to buy the business from her father. Some day, she hopes to pass this business on to her own two children. Carmela told me -- and I love this quote and I think this is a quote that could come from any American, but especially from somebody that lives in this state -- she said, "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.)

For small business owners like Carmela and for working families, President Bush will make sure taxes are kept low. And because so many people change jobs now several times over the length of their careers, workers and their families need access to affordable health care. For years, leaders in both parties said we should provide prescription drug coverage in Medicare. President Bush brought Republicans and Democrats together to give seniors real savings on their prescription drugs.

And he's making health care insurance more affordable with health savings accounts. These plans allow you to save, tax free, for routine health care expenses in accounts that you own, that you control and that you can take with you from job to job, or that you will still have if you quit work and go home to raise a family. This allows people to buy catastrophic health insurance with a large deductible, they can save for their deductible, have it in their health savings account, and it allows them to buy insurance at a much lower rate.

And probably most of you know this, but the majority of uninsured American workers work for small businesses. In the next four years, the President wants to enable small businesses to pool their risk so that they can buy health insurance for their employees at the same discounts that big businesses get. (Applause.)

And my husband will make sure that patients and doctors are in charge of health care, not bureaucrats in Washington. (Applause.) George believes that government should help people improve their lives, not try to run them. (Applause.)

All of these issues are important to our country. But as we grieve for the families of 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.)

President Bush and I want our men and women in uniform and their families to know how much every American appreciates their service and their sacrifice. We appreciate courageous Americans like retired Army Sergeant Christina Wall of the 529th Ordinance Company who led the Pledge today. (Applause.) Not only did Christina serve in our military, but her husband does as well, and so does one of her sons.

As we do the hard work of confronting terror, we can be proud that today 50 million more men, women and children have the chance to 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 are now able to walk outside of their homes without a male escort. And the little girls of Afghanistan, who were forbidden to be educated, are now back in school. (Applause.)

Because we acted, the people of Iraq are free from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. Yesterday, President Bush met with Prime Minister Allawi at the White House. Imagine, a President of the United States and a Prime Minister of Iraq meeting together at the White House.

Prime Minister Allawi said that the Iraqi people are determined to exercise their right to vote this January, even as they face mounting violence from those who oppose democracy. These acts are grim reminders of why our work to defeat terror and to support free societies in the Middle East is so important.

We still have a lot of hard work to do. But we know that we can do it. We know that Americans can do the hard work. And we'll stand with the people of Iraq and Afghanistan while their hopes for freedom are being fulfilled.

Building a democracy takes time. Think of how long it took us in our country, even though we were given the perfect document by our founders. It took almost 100 years after our founders declared that all men are created equal to abolish slavery in America. And not until 84 years ago did American women get the right to vote.

Our nation hasn't always lived up to its ideals, yet those ideals have never ceased to guide us. We're the beneficiaries of the work of the generations before us and now it's our responsibility to continue that work.

For the next few weeks -- five weeks or 39 days as Charlotte reminded us, I want you to talk to your friends and your neighbors about the President's accomplishments and about his plans for a new term. Reach out to Democrats and independents who appreciate strong and optimistic leadership. Make sure your friends are registered to vote and turn them out at the polls. Everything you do to help will be a huge help for the President's campaign.

These are times of change for our nation, but they're also years of promise. 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 every day to his job. And, with your help, he'll do it for four more years. (Applause.)

Thank you all so much. Thank you all very, very much. (Applause.)

END 9:53 A.M. CDT

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