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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
September 30, 2004

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Bush-Cheney '04 Rally in Albuquerque, New Mexico
D.R.B. Electric
Albuquerque, New Mexico

3:47 P.M. MDT

MRS. BUSH: Thanks so much. I want to thank Denise Baker and Randy Baker. Thank you very, very much for having me here today to your business, to D.R.B. Electric. We just went on a great tour.

I've had a terrific time going around the country talking with women entrepreneurs. (Applause.) And there are a lot in this room, I know. (Applause.) So I'm so glad to be here in New Mexico to talk to some of the New Mexican women entrepreneurs and also to talk about why it's so important to reelect George W. Bush. (Applause.)

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

MRS. BUSH: As I've traveled across the country, I've met so many Americans who have such a deep love for our country. And I know that a lot of people across our country see what you and I see, and that is that my husband is a leader of character and conviction. (Applause.)

We've watched as President Bush has led this country through the most historic struggle of our generation. We've been through a lot together in these 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 the President's decisive leadership. (Applause.)

In Ohio, I visited with a woman entrepreneur who summed up our success this way. She said, "President Bush was born for such a time as this. He never wavers when it comes to doing the right thing." (Applause.) She said, "It makes me feel so secure to know that our leader has such love for our country."

When it comes to government, President Bush has one basic principle, and that is, our government ought to help people improve their lives, not try to run them. (Applause.) George has worked to build an economic environment where entrepreneurs have the opportunity to succeed. And our economy remains the strongest in the world, thanks to all of our small businesses and to the President's commitment to tax relief. (Applause.) Millions of families are saving more of their own money, and businesses are expanding. And, as many of you know, a lot of small businesses are either sole proprietorships or sub-S corporations and they're taxed with regular income tax. So when you talk about tax cuts, you're talking about giving small business owners the chance to invest and to hire workers. And I'm really pleased that last week the United States Congress voted to extend the tax relief. (Applause.)

In the last year alone, America has added 1.7 million new jobs. That's more than Germany, Japan, England, Canada, and France added, combined. (Applause.)

Small business owners like Denise Baker are some of the hardest working people in America. (Applause.) Ten million American women own their own businesses in our country. Women are opening small businesses at twice the rate of men. And they employ more than 19 million Americans.

I've visited with women who own quilt shops, employment agencies, construction companies, and even tow trucks. Anyone who wonders what women are capable of achieving need only look at America's women business owners. (Applause.)

Denise and Randy started D.R.B. Electric in their kitchen with one other employee. Today, they own the large facility I just toured and they employ 40 people. Being a woman business owner presents unique challenges. Denise said that for many years, when she and Randy would attend conferences, people would just assume she was tagging along as his wife, and they'd direct all their questions to Randy. But that's changed in recent years as people see that Denise is making many of the important decisions about the direction of her company.

And, of course, with three of her five children in grade school, Denise does a lot of business on the cell phone while she waits in the carpool line. (Laughter.) And her daughters have been to quite a few meetings with their mom. We may have a whole new generation of women entrepreneurs growing up right here in the Baker home. (Applause.)

Are the little girls here? Are they here? They're right here on the front row. They're such cute little girls, I hope you'll have a chance to see them.

And if the last few years are any indication, the girls will have a thriving company to take over one day.

Denise credits the President's tax cuts with helping her company ride out the recession. Because of the increased expensing allowance, they were able to invest in new trucks and new computers so they were prepared to do more business when the economy recovered. Denise says the last year has been "phenomenal" ?- she's already added 12 employees this year -- (applause) -- and now her biggest worry is finding enough qualified workers to fill the demand.

President Bush wants to help small businesses grow by helping Americans gain the skills they need to succeed in today's job market. The President will work with community colleges to make career training more accessible. And because higher education is a lifelong dream for so many, the President wants more Pell grants to be available so that more Americans can get a college diploma. (Applause.) In fact, the President's budget for next year includes a record $73.1 billion for student financial aid. That's a 55 percent increase since he took office. (Applause.)

Another important issue for small businesses and families is affordable health insurance. The President is making health care more accessible with ideas like health savings accounts. These plans allow people to save tax free for routine medical expenses like doctors visits or eyeglasses. Then you can buy a much less expensive -- with a high deductible -- insurance plan, and in your health savings account keep your savings for your deductible in case you have to pay it.

Women can take these accounts with them if they start a new job or if they leave work to go home and raise a family. This is health care that we own, we manage, and we can keep. (Applause.)

More than half of uninsured Americans are small business employees and their families. The President wants small businesses to pool their risk so that they can buy health insurance for their employees at the same discounts that big companies get. (Applause.) And my husband will always make sure that patients and doctors are in charge of health care, not bureaucrats in Washington.

All of these issues are important to our country. But 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. (Applause.)

Earlier, I met Denise's niece who is here as a freshman at the University of New Mexico, and her dad is deployed in Kandahar, Afghanistan. And I just want her to know that every one of us are grateful for his dedication to the cause of freedom. (Applause.)

As we do the hard work of confronting terror around the world, 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 homes by the Taliban, the women of Afghanistan are now able to walk outside of their doors without a male escort. (Applause.) And the little girls of Afghanistan who were forbidden to be educated are now in school. (Applause.)

Next week, more than 10.5 million Afghans, including 4 million women, will vote in the first free presidential election in the history of their country. (Applause.)

Because we acted, the people of Iraq are free from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. (Applause.) President Bush met with Iraq's new leader, Prime Minister Allawi, at the White House last week. Prime Minister Allawi says that the Iraqi people are determined to exercise their right to vote this January, even as they face 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 have more hard work to do, but we must remember that building a democracy takes time. It took almost 100 years after our founders declared all men are created equal to abolish slavery in America. And not until 84 years ago did American women get the right to vote. (Applause.)

On the fourth of July, Lance Corporal Laura Barrow wrote a letter to President Bush from her base camp in Iraq. We were moved by her dedication. She wrote: "Our nation did not win its freedom over night. It took many brave men to establish the free democracy we call America. The same will be true of Iraq. It will take many brave men and women with conviction and resolve to establish a free democracy so that the Iraqi people may enjoy the same rights as Americans. Our two countries are very different," she said, "But there is a common goal ?- freedom." (Applause.)

We will stand with the people of Iraq and Afghanistan while their hopes of freedom are fulfilled. President Bush will continue to work to make our country safer, stronger and more hopeful for all Americans.

In the next five weeks, talk to your neighbors about the President's accomplishments and his plan 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 then turn them out at the polls. And tomorrow night in Miami, the American people will see the strong, decisive man I've known for the last 27 years -- (applause) -? a man who says what he means and does what he says. (Applause.)

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 lies before us to his job every day. And, with your help, he'll do it for four more years. (Applause.) Thank you all. Thanks so much. May God bless America. (Applause.)

END 4:04 P.M. MDT

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