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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
October 13, 2004

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Victory 2004 Rally in Las Cruces, New Mexico
Dickerson's Event Center
Las Cruces, New Mexico

MRS. BUSH: Thank you all very, very much. Thanks a lot. Thanks, Barbara. It's really great to be introduced by your daughter. George and I have had a terrific time traveling with Barbara and Jenna on the campaign trail, having this chance to be with them and actually have them say out loud in public how much they love us -- we really like that. (Laughter.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you, Laura.

MRS. BUSH: Thank you all. Congressman Steve Pearce, thank you very, very much. Thank you for your introduction, and thanks for being with us today. Mayor Bill Mattiace, Mayor of Las Cruces, thank you so much for joining us today. And Susana Martinez, the Doa Ana County District Attorney, thank you. And all the other state and local elected officials who are here with me, thank you so much for joining me today. Thanks a lot. (Applause.)

Its great to be in Las Cruces. As all of you know, George and I grew up in Midland, Texas. But my mother grew up -- her actual address was Star Route, Anthony, New Mexico. So she grew just -- grew up right down the road from you all. (Applause.) So when I'm here, I feel like I'm home, and it's great to be here. Earlier last week, I was in Clovis, and then Albuquerque, and George was with Jenna, our other daughter, and our nephew, George P. Bush, in Hobbs yesterday. We'll be back in New Mexico, I'm sure, before November 2nd, and it's really terrific to be able to visit your beautiful state on this campaign.

Im so glad to be here to talk to you all about why its so important to reelect President George W. Bush. (Applause.) As I've traveled around the country in the last several months, I've met so many people who have a deep love for our country and a deep love for our President. People across America see what you and I see. My husband is a man of great character and conviction. Weve all watched as he has led this country through the most historic struggle of a generation. Weve been through a lot together these last four years. But, today, our economy is growing, were closing the achievement gap in our schools, and America is safer and stronger, thanks to the decisive actions of President Bush. (Applause.)

These are historic times, but theyre also times of change that require new ideas to move America forward. Just think about the difference in our lives today and the lives of our parents or grandparents.

Today, in most families, both parents work 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 lifetimes. 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 these changing times is at the heart of the Presidents plan.

We know that all opportunity starts with education. During his first week in office, President Bush sent a plan to Congress to change public education in America, because too many children from our poorest schools were being left behind. And, today, thanks to the No Child Left Behind Act, our schools are improving with higher standards, with accountability, and with the most federal funding ever for elementary and secondary education. (Applause.) More children are reading at grade level, and scores in math are improving.

All across the state of New Mexico, students are making great gains, and we owe this success to New Mexico's incredible teachers. In the next four years, my husbands wants teachers who choose to work in low-income schools and those who are working hard to close the achievement gap to receive extra compensation. (Applause.) And as we help our younger students, we want to make sure that students in high schools are well prepared for the new jobs of the 21st century, with increased math and science education. And President Bush wants to make sure that adults who want to go back to school to get a certificate at a community college or to stay competitive in the business world can also receive federal financial student aid. (Applause.)

And when todays students enter the workforce, Im 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 businesses, and this sisterhood just keeps growing. In fact, women are starting businesses at twice the rate of men, and they're crucial to our vibrant economy. And millions more people are saving more of their own money thanks to the largest tax relief in a generation. (Applause.)

And just in case you dont know it, many small businesses are either sole proprietorships or S -- sub-S corporations, which means theyre taxed with regular income tax. So when you talk about tax cuts, youre also talking about tax relief for small business owners to expand their businesses and hire more people. (Applause.) Last week, President Bush signed a bill extending the tax relief so that families and small businesses can stay on the path to greater prosperity. (Applause.) America has added more than 1.9 million jobs since August '03. That's more jobs than Germany, Japan, England, Canada, and France added combined. (Applause.)

And after people in Washington spent years talking about helping seniors pay for their medications, the President delivered results. Today, millions of seniors are paying less for prescription drugs, and the Medicare bill also created a new option for insurance coverage that all Americans can take advantage of, and that's health savings accounts, where you can save tax-free for your routine medical expenses. (Applause.) President Bush will also work to bring down the cost of health care by reforming the medical liability system and reducing junk lawsuits. (Applause.) And my husband will make sure that patients and doctors are in charge of health care, not bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)

As President, my husband has met the toughest challenges with courage. He believes that it's his duty, the responsibility of every leader, to find solutions to problems, not pass them on to future Presidents or future generations. (Applause.) And as we mark the third anniversary of September 11th, I believe whats most important is my husbands work to protect our country and to defeat terror around the world. (Applause.) President Bush wants our men and women in uniform and their families to know how much every American appreciates their service and their sacrifice. They are in our thoughts and prayers every single day. (Applause.) And 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.)

On Saturday, it was such a historic day in Afghanistan as the Afghan people voted in their first free presidential election in the history of their country. (Applause.) Millions turned out to vote despite the threat of terrorist attacks. A 19-year-old woman became the very first voter in the election. She said, I cannot explain my feelings, just how happy I am. I would have never thought I would be able to vote in this election. (Applause.)

And because we acted, the people of Iraq are free from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. President Bush met with Iraqi's new leader, Prime Minister Allawi, at the White House recently. 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. Building a democracy takes time. Think how long it took us in our country. It took almost 100 years after our founders declared all men are created equal to abolish slavery. And not until 84 years ago did American women get the right to vote. (Applause.) Building a democracy is not easy, but we know it is always right. (Applause.)

Over the last two debates, the American people have seen the strong man that Ive known for 27 years, a man who says what he means and does what he says. Tomorrow night in Tempe, Arizona, the President will again talk to the American people of bringing -- about bringing opportunity and prosperity to every part of our country. So in the next three weeks, I want to encourage you to get his message out to your neighbors. Talk to them about the Presidents accomplishments and about his plans for a new term. Reach out to Democrats and independents who appreciate strong and optimistic leadership. Make sure if youll be away from home on election day that you get an absentee ballot. The deadline to ask for an absentee ballot is October 28th. And make sure everyone you know turns out at the polls. Everything you do will be a huge help for the Presidents campaign. And we are going to carry the state of New Mexico. (Applause.)

These are times of change for our nation, but theyre also years of promise. George and I grew up in this very part of the country, 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, hell do it for four more years. (Applause.)

Thank you all. May God bless America. Thanks so much. (Applause.)

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