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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
April 4, 2006

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Jim Talent for Senate Luncheon
Millennium Hotel
St. Louis, Missouri

12:01 P.M. CST

MRS. BUSH: Thank you all. Thank you so much, Brenda. I'm so happy today to be in Missouri, and I'm especially happy to be here today in support of your great Senator, Jim Talent -- where is that applause? (Applause.)

I also just want to say that President Bush and I both send our sympathy and our concern to the counties in Missouri that have been hit by the tornados the day before yesterday. I know that all of you join me as well in sending our best regards to all those people who will need to rebuild now.

I also want to acknowledge, of course, Melanie Blunt, your First Lady; Jack Oliver, who is our honorary chairman for today's event, and he's a former national finance chairman for the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign. And then, of course, I have to acknowledge the President's uncle, Bucky Bush -- (applause) -- and one of my favorite uncles as well; and Lindsay Bush, our cousin. I think Lindsay is out in the audience somewhere. (Applause.) Thank you all, both, also for working on Jim's campaign.

Jim is a very important member of the United States Senate and he's a passionate advocate for the people of Missouri. He truly represents the values and the priorities of this great state. His priorities are your priorities, and they are to protect our nation, to create jobs and economic opportunity for everybody, and to strengthen families.

At this historic time in our country, no issue is more important than defending America, and Jim is an especially important voice. (Applause.) Jim speaks out on issues involving the brave men and women in uniform who are serving across the world. He's a member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, and he's worked hard there to make sure that our men and women in uniform have everything they need to serve our country overseas, and then to be able to come home safely.

Jim was instrumental in saving the F-18 plant when he served in the House. And in the Senate he's done even more. (Applause.) He helped to bring the Multi Mission Maritime Aircraft here, and he's been vital in supporting the X43C project.

Most important, Jim understands the sacrifices made by our Armed Services personnel, and he understands the importance of their mission. Our men and women in uniform are the pride and joy of America. (Applause.) They have a difficult job -- protecting our country and spreading freedom in other parts of the world. And they're completing their mission with honor. Thanks to the men and women of the United States military, America is winning the war on terror. (Applause.)

Many families from Missouri carry the burden of having a loved one deployed overseas. Our thoughts are always with these families, and our thoughts are with their loved ones who serve overseas so that democracy can prevail in that region and so that our children and our grandchildren can grow up in the peaceful world we all want. (Applause.)

Senator Talent also knows that our children and grandchildren need to grow up in a world with good jobs and economic opportunity. He's one of the Senate's strongest supporters of the tax cuts that are fueling our economy. Almost 5 million jobs have been created in the last 30 months. Home ownership is at near record levels. Families are able to keep more of their own income.

That growing economy needs fuel, and Jim is a leader in the search for alternatives to foreign sources of oil. He joined other Midwesterners to form a biofuels caucus in the Senate. And he helped make sure that support for renewable fuels, like ethanol and biodiesel, are included in the energy bill.

Our country still faces other challenges, and one of our biggest challenges is to make sure that workers can find jobs in the new economy -- jobs like the ones that you're building here in Missouri. That requires education and high-level skills, especially 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 from high school has the skills to get the best jobs of this new century.

And as we help students with a good education, we must also help our young people build 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 learn to use their voices, and not their fists, to resolve conflict.

I recently heard from the 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 to me about Jesus, who was verging on homelessness when I visited. But since then, because of his experience building sets for performances of Shakespeare, Jesus is now working in Home Depot and was just named Home Depot Employee of the Month. (Applause.)

All of these visits culminated last October at the White House Conference on Helping America's Youth. There, scholars, researchers and other adults who work directly with young people shared the statistics, the results of programs that they had started, 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 communities can use. It was developed by small working groups from seven different United States government agencies. And the Guide helps communities assess what their own assets are for children, and then to see where they're not meeting the needs of young people in their communities.

So I hope you'll all go home and look at this Guide. It's at -- that's "gov." And use it here in St. Louis and across Missouri to assist how you're helping children and then to see where you need to build new programs or new assets for our kids.

This morning I visited a program here in St. Charles that is helping students and children. It's the Preferred Family Health Care, and what I visited was the adolescent substance abuse rehabilitation center. This center -- people are doing great work there, very important work -- and what it does is, it gives a second chance to children and adolescents who have already engaged in the risky behavior of drug use.

The Preferred Family Health Care Center that I visited is helping teach youths how to make the right choices so that they can fulfill their potential and live a productive and a healthy life. The Center offers therapy, education, relapse prevention and life skills training. And no one is turned away because they can't pay. It's a great example -- there are a lot of Preferred Health Care Centers around Missouri, and it's a great example and role model for centers all across the country of ways we can intervene in the life of children once they've already started to use drugs.

We know that children need caring role models, and I'm proud to be here today for Jim Talent, because he is that kind of role model. He has absolute integrity. He has the self-discipline and the self-control to be the kind of role model we want for children.

President Bush has a very ambitious agenda for the next three years, and in order to achieve it we need people like Jim Talent. We need people who see the immense promise that's everywhere in our country. And I know that Jim is that kind of person.

President Bush wants people in the Senate who love going to work there every single day for the people of the United States, and who look forward to the task at hand, no matter how difficult it might be. And that person is certainly Jim.

Senator Talent knows how Washington works, but he always remembers that his employers are right here at home. He's been very important to the President and to our country on issues like protecting our nation, cutting taxes, and reducing our reliance on foreign oil.

During these crucial times in our nation's history it's more important than ever to have Jim's leadership and his clear voice in the Senate for a responsive, effective government. Jim is a great leader for Missouri. Let's make sure you all re-elect Senator Jim Talent this November to the United States Senate.

Thank you so much for supporting Jim. (Applause.)

END 12:12 P.M. CST

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