The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
June 6, 2006

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at a Mark Kennedy for Senate and Minnesota Victory Reception
The Depot
Minneapolis, Minnesota

5:29 P.M. CDT

MRS. BUSH: Thank you all very much. Thank you, Mark, for your very kind introduction and for the warm welcome to your beautiful state. Debbie, thank you. I also remember those birthdays where you went to three county fairs. My birthday is on November 4th, so every once in a while, it would actually even be the election day. Mark's parents and his children, his girls, are here. I don't know where they are, but thank you all for coming out, as well. Laurie Coleman, Senator Norm Coleman's wife, and a good friend, is here with us today. And I know the Governor came out to give you all a little warm-up. I appreciated him joining me earlier when I made a stop at a wonderful project, Meadowbrook Collaborative, at a housing project in St. Louis Park, and I'll tell you more about that in a minute.

Also, the State Senator Republican candidate for Congress in the 6th District, Michelle Bachmann, is here. Michelle. (Applause.) Rod Grams, former Senator and Republican candidate for Congress, Minnesota 8th District, is here. Rod. (Applause.) And Ron Carey, Republican Party Chairman, state of Minnesota. Thank you all very, very much for joining us today.

I'm very happy to have this chance to be in Minnesota, and I'm especially delighted to be here with your great United States Representative -- soon to be your great United States Senator -- Mark Kennedy. (Applause.)

Mark is an important member of the U.S. Congress, and he'll be a passionate advocate for Minnesota values in the Senate. He's worked hard for Minnesota families during his six years in the House. Mark has brought the principles of efficiency and accountability that he developed his successful business career with to Congress, making sure that Minnesota tax dollars are spent responsibly. He supported the Presidential Line Item Veto, which will help the President veto unnecessary spending from our federal budget.

Mark has also been a strong supporter of tax cuts, and last month, with the help of Congress, my husband signed into law the largest tax relief package in American history. (Applause.) These tax cuts have helped fuel our economy, which has created 5.3 million jobs since 2003 -- meaning 5.3 million more Americans wake up every morning with the dignity and sense of purpose that comes with a job.

Mark's work to make sure Minnesotans keep more of their hard-earned money is one way he's helping families in your state. His work to make sure every child in Minnesota can grow up to be healthy and successful is another way.

Helping young people build the knowledge and the self-respect they need to lead successful lives is at the heart of the Helping America's Youth initiative. In his 2005 State of the Union address, President Bush announced the initiative, and asked me to lead it. In fact, this morning, I was in Indianapolis for our first Helping America's Youth Regional Conference. At the conference, we heard from community leaders throughout the Midwest about the great work that parents, mentors, pastors, coaches, and teachers are doing to bring opportunity and hope to young people.

Over the last year, I've traveled to many parts of our country visiting with youth 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 gang intervention programs, where I met with young people who are leaving gangs and finding jobs.

Recently, I heard from the directors of a program in Los Angeles that I visited last year. That program, Willpower to Youth, uses the performing arts -- performances of Shakespeare, actually -- to teach youth employable skills. They wrote to me about a young man, Jes s, who was on the verge of homelessness when I met him. Since then, with his experience building sets for these performances, Jes s has now got a job at Home Depot -- and he was just named the Home Depot Employee of the Month. (Applause.)

All of these visits culminated in the White House Conference on Helping America's Youth, which was last October. And at the conference, we introduced an online, interactive Community Guide. The guide helps concerned adults learn more about their communities -- like which neighborhoods have the most youth-related problems, and what local resources are available to address those problems. The information is available on the website, -- g-o-v, that is. So I urge you to look at the guide and use it here in Minnesota in each one of your neighborhoods.

Earlier, when I got here to Minnesota, I went straight to St. Louis Park and visited the Meadowbrook Collaborative. And this is a wonderful example of a whole community coming together to solve the problems that were in a housing project. The YMCA is represented. The school district pays for a teacher to be there every afternoon after school to help with homework projects. The Rotarians do fund-raising and mentor at the project. The local government, St. Louis Park, is very involved in everything that goes on there.

And they're making a huge difference, a big group of people in the community, working together. Children First is one of the programs that's there. And a Dr. Peter Benson, who works for Search Institute, that does research into what we can do, real research to find out how we can help young people, was there. The programs that they're doing at the Meadowbrook Collaborative are based on his research of the things that children need from caring adults. And he actually was there -- I got to see him this afternoon -- but he spoke in Indianapolis this morning at the regional conference.

This program, the Meadowbrook Collaborative, is a wonderful example for the rest of the country, a way that people can come together to make sure that young people growing up in the projects have a chance, and have a chance to do well in school and to make something of their lives. So I'm so proud to have had the chance to visit there.

Helping Minnesota's young people is one of Mark's top priorities. Mark understands that reading is the foundation of all learning, and he's promoted early-literacy programs to make sure that all American children have the knowledge they need to become successful adults. Mark is also an active co-sponsor of the Children's Safety Act, an act to make sure parents and first responders have the resources they need to keep children safe from predators in the community.

Mark agrees with my husband that the security of Minnesota families, though, and families throughout America, ultimately depends on the success of America's efforts to defeat terrorism. Mark has been a strong supporter of our troops as they've helped liberate Afghanistan and Iraq. And like you said, now, thanks to the men and women in uniform, Afghan women and girls can be educated for the first time in years. (Applause.) And the Iraqis, millions of Iraqis have turned out three times to vote, and now have established their government. And the violence that we're seeing there now is the last gasp of people who do not want Iraq to be a democratic country. But all of us are standing with the people of Iraq as they try to build their government. (Applause.)

Mark's achievements remind us of why it's so important to elect Mark to the United States Senate. President Bush has an ambitious agenda for the rest of his time in Washington, and he takes his responsibility to the American people very seriously. (Applause.)

Our country faces challenges that are too important to be reduced to simple politics. Ending our dependence on foreign oil, reforming immigration, rebuilding the Gulf Coast, and keeping our country safe from terrorism are not easy tasks. But they're absolutely vital goals. To accomplish them, we need to have serious national conversations conducted with civility and respect, and Mark's voice will be a thoughtful, positive and powerful part of that dialogue. (Applause.)

Mark is a very hard worker, and I know that's a characteristic of people in Minnesota, but it's also very, very important for your elected officials to be hard workers. And that's just one reason why he's a wonderful leader for Minnesota. If you look through his distinguished record of public service, you'll find many more. So let's make sure Mark is elected this November to the United States Senate.

Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

END 5:40 P.M. CDT

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