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

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Heather Wilson for Congress Reception
Albuquerque Hilton
Albuquerque, New Mexico

5:11 P.M. MDT

MRS. BUSH: Thank you, Jay. Thank you for that very kind introduction. I'm so glad to be here today to make sure that Heather Wilson is reelected -- (applause) -- to represent the great people of New Mexico in the United States Congress.

As all of you know, Congresswoman Wilson can't be with us today because she's in Washington for very important votes. She's doing what she does best -- and that's working hard for New Mexico families. (Applause.)

Special thanks to everyone who is working really hard to reelect Heather. I know that many of you are also working on my husband's campaign, and President Bush and I appreciate that very much. (Applause.) President Bush sends his best regards to all of you, and he also sends his thanks to you for supporting Heather.

All of you know Congresswoman Wilson as a devoted mother, a hardworking public servant, and an experienced leader. She'll always listen to a question or a concern, and you can count on Heather to speak her mind. That's what Jay told me. (Laughter.)

In Washington, we know Congresswoman Wilson as a principled, skilled legislator, who is not afraid to reach across the aisle to get things done for the people of her home state. From tax relief, to education, to strengthening health care, Heather has spent her time in Washington working on issues that matter to the families and workers of New Mexico. And the President and I are so glad to have Heather Wilson as a friend.

I'm proud of my husband and the way he has led our country with strength and conviction through the most historic struggle of our generation. (Applause.) And the President is really grateful to have leaders like Congresswoman Wilson to stand by his side during these challenging times.

President Bush has taken decisive action to lead us out of recession with the largest tax relief in a generation. And Heather Wilson supported doubling the child credit, reducing the marriage penalty, and putting the estate tax on the road to extinction. (Applause.) And I'm really pleased that the United States Congress -- including, of course, Heather Wilson -- voted to extend the tax relief. This gives families and small businesses added certainty to keep on the road to greater prosperity.

My husband worked with Heather and other leaders in Congress to improve our schools with higher standards, accountability, and the most federal funding ever for elementary and secondary education.

After both parties spent years arguing over Medicare, President Bush and Congresswoman Wilson brought Republicans and Democrats together to give seniors real savings on their prescription drugs. And the Medicare bill included millions of dollars for New Mexico families through provisions that Heather wrote into the bill.

President Bush relied on Heather's support as he made the most difficult decision any President can ever make -- and that's to send our troops to war to safeguard our children from terror.

We've been through a lot together in the last four years, and these have also been times of change that require new ideas to help 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. Workers are changing jobs often during their lifetime. And more people are going back to school to keep up with our changing economy. President Bush and Congresswoman Wilson are committed to helping families face the challenges of this changing world.

Heather knows that a skilled work force is vital to New Mexico's economy. She has worked hard to help more of New Mexico's young people stay in school. And she supports the President's plan to strengthen math and science education and expand Internet learning in our high schools so that our graduates are prepared to compete in this new economy. And Heather will also work with President Bush to make it easier for workers to attend local community colleges so they can learn new job skills or even start new careers.

And because higher education is a lifelong dream for so many, President Bush wants more Pell grants to be available so that more Americans can get their college diploma. (Applause.)

Our graduates and workers need an economy with abundant opportunity -? one in which businesses are growing and creating jobs. This requires making America the best place in the world to do business. I visited today Denise and Randy Baker's electric company, D.R.B. Electric. And Albuquerque has a really great example of a woman entrepreneur, a couple who have made a really great business. (Applause.)

We know that tax relief -- we need to keep taxes low. That's one of the reasons we've been able to grow our economy. It's one of the reasons that Denise and Randy have been able to grow their business, because they can expense more with the new tax relief plan. And also, as many of you might know, small businesses are a lot of times sole proprietorships or sub-S corporations, and they're taxed with regular income tax. So when you talk about tax relief, you're also talking about relief on small businesses, so they can expand their business and hire more people. (Applause.)

And George and Congresswoman Wilson also know that an important issue for New Mexico and for the whole country is access to affordable health care. Because now so many people change jobs several times during their career, workers need health care insurance that they can take with them. President Bush is making health care more affordable with ideas like health savings accounts. These plans allow you to save tax-free for routine health care expenses in accounts that you control, that you own and that you can take with you from job to job. In other words, you can buy a less expensive form of insurance with a high deductible, save your high deductible in your health savings account, that amount of the deductible, and then end up with better health care and your own health savings account.

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

All these issues are important in 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.)

As the leader on the House Committee on Armed Services, and the first woman veteran ever to serve in Congress, Heather knows that defending our freedom is the most important responsibility we have. (Applause.) For all Americans September 11th was a defining moment. We'll never forget the bravery of our fellow Americans or the spirit of unity that spread across our country. And we will never forget the courage of our military men and women or the dedication of their families.

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 homes by the Taliban, the women of Afghanistan are now free to be able to leave their homes without a male escort. And the little girls of Afghanistan who were forbidden to be educated are now in school. (Applause.)

Over 10 million Afghan citizens have registered to vote in next week's election. And that includes about 40 percent -- 40 percent of that number are women. (Applause.)

And because we acted, Iraq is now free of the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. President Bush met with Iraq's new leader, Prime Minister Allawi, at the White House last week. 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 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. I also want to recognize the Republican leader Allen Weh, who was deployed recently to Iraq and is home now with us. Thank you very, very much. Thank you, Alan. (Applause.)

We still have a lot of hard work to do. But we will stand with the people of Iraq and Afghanistan while their hopes for freedom are fulfilled. President Bush and Congresswoman Wilson will continue to defend our homeland, strengthening our military, and confronting terror so that our children and grandchildren can grow up in peace. (Applause.)

We must remember 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. It took us 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. We know that it's possible to build a democracy, and we see the great example of all the Central European countries that were once oppressed by the Soviet Union that now have 11- and 12-year-old democracies. So we know it can happen in the Middle East.

President Bush and Congresswoman Wilson will work to make our country safer, stronger, and more hopeful for all Americans.

When you leave here today, redouble your efforts to reelect Heather Wilson to the United States Congress. There are just a few weeks left until November 2nd. So talk to your neighbors and friends and make sure they're registered and make sure they turn out to vote. And remember that every single vote matters and that every vote for Congresswoman Wilson is a vote for a better and stronger America. You are electing someone who will represent your hopes and dreams in our nation's capital, someone who will uphold the strong character and the values of the people of New Mexico. Congresswoman Wilson serves the people of New Mexico with integrity and conviction and these are the values we need in the United States Congress. (Applause.)

So please join President Bush and me in supporting Heather Wilson for the U.S. Congress. (Applause.)

Thank you all so much. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for your friendship for President Bush. Thanks a lot. (Applause.)

END 5:20 P.M. MDT

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