The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
October 28, 2004

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Victory '04 Rally in Sarasota, Florida
Sarasota City Municipal Auditorium
Sarasota, Florida

11:31 A.M. EDT

MRS. BUSH: Thank you very much for coming out to greet me today. I'm so thrilled to be here in Sarasota. (Applause.) Congresswoman Harris, thank you very much. Thank you for introducing me. And Mel Martinez, who's our candidate, as you know, for United States Senate, it's so important that Florida elect Mel Martinez. (Applause.)

As you all know, Mel served on the President's Cabinet at HUD, Housing and Urban Development, and he was so terrific as a Cabinet secretary, he'll make a really wonderful senator.

And Kitty Martinez is one of my really good friends. Thank you, Kitty. Thank you -- (applause).

County Commissioner David Mills is here and State Senator Lisa Carlton. Thank you all very, very much for being here with me. And thanks to all of the co-chairs, the Bush-Cheney co-chairs and to all of the volunteers who worked so hard to put this great event together. I really appreciate it. (Applause.)

Earlier this month, Barbara and Jenna Bush, who are campaigning in New Mexico today with their grandfather, former President Bush -- (applause) -- Barbara and Jenna came with me and we tried to help with some hurricane relief in Vero Beach. We were so inspired by the resiliency of the people of Florida, by the volunteers, by the National Guard soldiers who were working there to help people, the police and the rescue workers, and especially by the members of the Red Cross and the Salvation Army who worked so hard here in Florida through your four hurricanes.

As I travel around our country, and especially on that day in Vero Beach, I see every day how decent and how generous Americans are. We can take comfort in knowing that in times of tragedy, Americans always unite to help each other. (Applause.)

Many families, with a lot of help from their neighbors, are beginning to rebuild and get back on their feet all over Florida, and I know that all Americans will keep the families in Florida who suffered because of the hurricane in their prayers, and the U.S. government will continue to help the people of Florida as Florida rebuilds. (Applause.)

I'm so glad to be in Sarasota to talk about why it's so important to reelect President George W. Bush. (Applause.) We've been through a lot together these last four years. But today, our economy is growing, we're closing the achievement gap in our public schools, and America is safer and stronger, thanks to the President's decisive leadership. (Applause.)

When I visited Ohio a few weeks ago, I met a woman business owner 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. It makes me feel so secure to know that our leader has such a love for our country." (Applause.)

Like this woman business owner, women across America are playing an important role in this election. We have clear ideas about the kind of leader we want to protect our children and to move our country forward. We want a leader who will keep our country and our families safe -- a President who will make sure every child receives an excellent education -- and that our families have affordable and accessible health care.


MRS. BUSH: We want a leader who understands that we know best how to spend our own money. (Applause.) And we want a President who is strong and steady and compassionate -- a leader who keeps his word. And I'm proud that my husband is that kind of leader. (Applause.)

President Bush knows that empowered women are vital to a democracy. And all of us see that clearly as we look around the world and see what happens in countries where half of the population is left out. If it weren't also for that, he has three strong women at home who don't let him forget it. (Laughter.)

I'm proud that in my husband's administration, there are more women in senior positions than in any other presidential administration in history. (Applause.) Dr. Condoleezza Rice advises the President on foreign policy -- (applause) -- and Margaret Spellings is in charge of domestic policy. (Applause.) That means at the White House, women are in charge of everything abroad and everything at home. (Laughter and applause.)

Of course, when you have a mother like Barbara Bush, you're used to strong women. (Applause.) A couple of summers ago, we were visiting George's parents in their house in Maine for the 4th of July. We got up at 6:00 o'clock in the morning like we usually do, and George went in to get coffee. And then he went into his parents' bedroom and sat on the sofa and put his feet up. And all of a sudden, Barbara Bush hollered, "Put your feet down." (Laughter.) George's dad said, "For goodness sake, Bar, he's the President of the United States." (Laughter.) And Bar said, "I don't care -- I don't want his feet on my coffee table." (Laughter.) So you see, even Presidents have to listen to their mother. (Applause.)

George is a lot like his mother. My husband makes his views clear and he stands on principle. (Applause.) He says what he means and he does what he says. (Applause.)

Four years ago, when our economy needed a jumpstart, my husband said that he would reduce taxes, and he did. (Applause.) Millions of families and small business owners are saving more of their own money because the President worked to pass the largest tax relief in a generation. (Applause.) Married couples, parents, workers, and business owners all saved more of their own money. And today, our economy is growing and it's getting stronger every day. (Applause.)

America has added 1.9 million new jobs in the last 13 months. And in a new term, my husband will work to keep taxes low, so that more workers can find good jobs and families can save for retirement and for their children's college education. (Applause.)

Four years ago, my husband promised to end the soft bigotry of low expectations by reforming our public schools. He kept his word. (Applause.) He worked with Congress to pass good, sound education reforms to bring high standards to the classroom and to make schools more accountable to parents.

We're seeing progress. Math and reading scores are rising. We're closing the achievement gap by helping minority students, and George will build on these reforms and extend them to our high schools so that no child in America will be left behind. (Applause.)

Four years ago, my husband said he would work with Congress to give seniors relief from the rising cost of prescription drugs -? and he kept his word. (Applause.) Today, over four million Americans have already signed up for their Medicare prescription drug card. Low income seniors are getting $600 credit on this year's card and $600 on next year's card. And in 2006, when the full prescription drug benefit begins, seniors will save even more. (Applause.)

My husband knows that we must do more to lower the cost of health care and to make sure that good doctors aren't forced out of practice because of the high cost of medical liability insurance premiums. In a new term, President Bush will work to reform the medical liability system and reduce frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.) And he'll make sure that patients and doctors are in charge of health care, not bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)

George believes that government should try to help people improve their lives, not try to run them. (Applause.) And the President believes that one of the most promising ways government can help improve our lives is by supporting medical research. Since George has been President, the funds for the National Institutes of Health have doubled, and I'm very proud that my husband is the first President to authorize federal funding for stem cell research. (Applause.)

Last year, the federal government invested nearly $25 million in embryonic stem cell research and nearly $191 million in adult and other stem cell research. The President's policy makes it possible for researchers to explore the potential of stem cells while respecting the ethical and moral implications associated with this research. (Applause.)

As President, my husband has met the toughest challenges with strength and conviction. He believes that it's his duty, the responsibility of every leader, to find solutions to problems, not to pass them on to future Presidents or future generations. (Applause.)

And that is why President Bush is committed to strengthening Social Security today for all a new generation tomorrow. As long as my husband is President, America will keep the promise of Social Security to all of our seniors. (Applause.) Social Security doesn't need to be changed for those people who are receiving it now, or for people my age who will receive it soon. But the President is exploring ideas to strengthen Social Security for the next generation, for our children and grandchildren.

One good proposal is to allow younger workers to save some of their payroll taxes in a personal savings account. These accounts would help workers build a nest egg at a higher rate of return than the Social Security trust, and then have a nest egg that the government can't take away from them. (Applause.)

All of these issues are important to our families and to our nation. But 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 and I want the men and the women of the United States military and their families to know how much every American appreciates their service and their sacrifice. (Applause.) Thanks also to the veterans who are here, for your example that you've set for our troops and for our country. (Applause.)

We appreciate the service of courageous Americans like retired Colonel John Saputo who is with us today. Thank you, John, and thanks to your wife, Denise, for your dedication to our country. (Applause.) As long as my husband is Commander-in-Chief, our troops will have the support they need, and the United States military will remain an all-volunteer military. (Applause.)

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.)

Earlier this month -- and I hope you saw a lot of pictures of it -- millions of Afghan citizens voted in the first free presidential election in the history of their country. And in a great display of how far Afghanistan has come in a short time, a 19-year-old woman cast the very first ballot. (Applause.)

The people of Iraq are also exercising their new freedoms, even as they face violence from those who oppose democracy. Already an Iraqi independent electoral commission is up and running, and political parties are planning campaigns. Voter registration will start next month, and free and fair elections will be held this coming January.

The future holds great promise for the people of Afghanistan and Iraq and, though many difficulties remain, the United States will be a constant friend to both nations. (Applause.)

Americans know that building a democracy is not easy. Think of 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.

We know that democracy requires the participation of all citizens, and voting is one of our greatest rights and responsibilities. So make sure you go to the polls this Tuesday and cast your vote. (Applause.)

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

MRS. BUSH: This is a critical time in our history. We face a challenge and a choice between an America that is uncertain in the face of danger or an America that takes decisive action to defeat terror and spread liberty.

Families and business owners can choose a President who wants to keep taxes low so people can keep more of their own money. We can choose a President who wants a health care system where patients and doctors are in charge, not the government. And parents can choose a President who will keep us on the path to excellence and high standards in our schools for every single child. (Applause.)

The choice is clear. America needs the leadership of President Bush for four more years. (Applause.)

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

MRS. BUSH: So, with just five days left, I want to encourage you when you leave here today, tell your neighbors about the President's leadership and his vision for making America safer and stronger. Reach out to Democrats and Independents who appreciate optimistic and strong leadership. Then make sure you vote, and turn out as many people as you can. You can drive a friend or a neighbor to the polls. Everything you do will be a help for the President's campaign. On November 2nd, I know the people of Florida will stand with George and we'll carry this great state. (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 is before us to his job every day. And, with your help, he'll do it for four more years. (Applause.) May God bless you, and may God bless America. (Applause.) Thank you all. (Applause.)

END 11:47 A.M. EDT

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