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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
April 3, 2006

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Reception for Congresswoman Heather Wilson
Albuquerque Marriott Pyramid North
Albuquerque, New Mexico

9:55 A.M. MST

MRS. BUSH: Thank you very much, Congresswoman, and thank every one of you for coming out today. I'm so happy to be in New Mexico and I'm especially honored to have this chance to be here with your great United States Representative, Heather Wilson. (Applause.)

I want to also acknowledge and thank Heather's husband, Jay Hone. Thank you very much for everything you do. (Applause.) State Representative Justine Fox Young is here, I think. There you are, thank you so much for joining us today. (Applause.) The Governor of Sandia Pueblo, Governor Lawrence Guiterrez is here as well -- is he? Maybe he's not. (Laughter.) And of course, our State GOP Chairman of New Mexico, Allen Weh. Allen, thank you very much. (Applause.) And Larry Abraham, the Mayor of Los Ranchos is here. (Applause.)

Heather is a very important member of the United States Congress. And she's such a passionate advocate for the people of New Mexico. She truly represents the values and the priorities of her district and this great state. Her priorities are your priorities -- and they're to protect our nation, to create jobs and economic opportunity for everybody, and to strengthen families.

At this historic time in our country, President Bush believes that defending America is our greatest challenge, and Heather is an especially important voice on the issues involving the brave men and women in uniform who are serving around the world. (Applause.)

Heather Wilson is the first-ever woman graduate of a service academy to be a member of that United States Congress. (Applause.) We honor her for her outstanding record at the United States Air Force Academy; for her service to the United States; and for her expertise and her experience in Congress. Heather's Armed Forces background makes her uniquely qualified to serve at this important time. She understands the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform and their families. And she knows the importance of their mission. Our troops are the pride and joy of America. They have a difficult job: protecting our country and protecting freedom in other parts of the world. And they're completing their mission with honor. Thanks to the men and women of our Armed Forces, America is winning the war against terror. (Applause.)

Many families in New Mexico carry the burden of having a loved one deployed overseas. Our thoughts are always with them, and their work, that's so important, so that our children and grandchildren will have the chance to grow up in a peaceful world.

Heather also understands that our children and grandchildren need to grow up in a world of good jobs and economic opportunity. The high-tech industry here in New Mexico that we visited the last time that we were here provides tremendous opportunities for so many people, and we need to make sure it keeps growing. That's a priority of for President Bush and for Heather. And Heather supported the tax cuts that are fueling our economy now. (Applause.) Almost 5 million jobs have been created in the last 30 months. Home ownership is at a record level. And families are keeping more of their own income and deciding how to spend it themselves.

That growing economy needs energy, and Heather was one of the most important people in Congress when it comes to energy. She and the President agree that we rely too much on foreign sources of oil. Now we have an energy bill that will help us diversify our energy sources and that encourages us to use American ingenuity and creativity to meet the challenges of our economy.

Our country still faces challenges. And one of our biggest challenges is to make sure that workers can find good jobs in our new economy; jobs like the ones you're creating here in New Mexico. A rigorous education and high-level skills, for all students, especially in math and science, are required. And Heather just talked about that bill that was passed that will give students a chance to really get a great education in math and science.

The American Competitiveness Initiative, which the President announced in his State of the Union address, invests in math and science education across America. The goal is to make sure that every student who graduates has skills to get the very best jobs available.

As we help students with a good education, we must also help our young people build a strong character. In his 2005 State of the Union address, President Bush announced the Helping America's Youth initiative, and he asked me to lead it.

Over the last year I've traveled to many parts of our country visiting with young people and with the adults who are so important to their lives. I've been to schools and to after-school programs. I've met with mentors and Big Brothers and Big Sisters. I visited with gang intervention programs, where I met the young people who are leaving gangs and finding jobs. I visited a school debate program in Atlanta, where students learned to use their voices, and not their fists, to resolve conflict.

I recently heard from directors of a program in Los Angeles that I visited last year, which uses the performing arts -- Shakespeare, actually -- to teach youth employable skills. They wrote about Jesus, who was verging on homelessness when I visited. But since then, because of this experience with Will Power To Youth building sets, Jesus is now working in Home Depot and was just named "Home Depot Employee of the Month."

Here in New Mexico I visited the Dance Institute of New Mexico, which does the very same thing -- works with young people and their mentors -- in this instance, dance -- and to help them develop the strong character we all want them to have.

All of these visits culminated last October, with the White House Conference on Helping America's Youth. Scholars, researchers, and other adults who work directly with young people shared the statistics, the results of programs, and anecdotal evidence, and their own experiences. And then we introduced the Community Guide to Helping America's Youth, which is an on-line tool that was developed by seven different United States agencies working together, U.S. government agencies. They help communities assess what their own assets are for children, and then see where they need to add to their -- to what they have for children.

I hope you all will all go home and look at this guide. It's -- that's "gov" -- and use it here in Albuquerque and across New Mexico to assess where you're helping kids and where you need to help them.

This morning I'm going to visit a great program here in Albuquerque, at Bel Air Elementary School. It's called "Protecting You/Protecting Me," and it's a program where teachers teach children about the harmful effects that alcohol can have on them, on their growth and their development. "Protecting You/Protecting Me" helps children protect themselves from alcohol and drug use, and then helps them make smart and informed decisions. It's a program of MADD, Mothers Against Drug Driving, and I'm really looking forward to seeing this terrific program here in Albuquerque.

What children need from all of us are really strong role models, and Heather Wilson is that. She has absolute integrity; she has the self-discipline and the self-control to be the kind of model we want for children all over our country. The President has a very ambitious agenda, and in order to achieve it, we need people like Heather Wilson, who has a sense of optimism, who see that America has really many, many wonderful days and people. We need people who see the immense promise that's everywhere in our country, and I know that Heather is that kind of person.

President Bush wants people in the Congress who love going to work every single day for the people of the United States, who look forward to the task at hand -- no matter how difficult it might be -- and that person is certainly Heather. Heather will help President Bush achieve his agenda. Heather knows how Washington works, but she always remembers that her employers are right here in New Mexico -- where she lives, by the way. She's been important to the President on issues like protecting our nation and passing an energy bill.

But, most important, she's dedicated to the people of the first district, to the military families in New Mexico, to bringing jobs and opportunity to this great state.

During these crucial times in our nation's history, we need Heather's leadership. We need her clear, conservative voice in Congress, her clear voice for a responsive, effective government. Heather is a wonderful leader for New Mexico. Let's make sure Heather Wilson is re-elected this November to the United States Congress. (Applause.)

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