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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
June 13, 2006

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at a Reception for Kean - NJ Victory '06 Committee
Bathgate, Wegener & Wolf, P.C.
Lakewood, New Jersey

5:40 P.M. EDT

MRS. BUSH: Thank you, Tom. Thank you for that kind introduction. Thanks to each and every one of you for the very, very warm welcome. I want to acknowledge Rhonda. Thank you for joining us up here on the stage, and for joining your husband in this campaign. I can assure you it will be a lot more fun than you might think it will be. (Laughter.) And I think it will be successful, as well. So thank you very much. (Applause.)

I also want to acknowledge your former governor, Christie Todd Whitman -- Governor Whitman. Thank you so much for being here today. (Applause.) And our friend, Larry Bathgate, your host today -- Larry, and George Gilmore, thank you both very, very much. Thank you, Larry. (Applause.) And Tom Wilson, the Chairman of the New Jersey Republican State Committee, thank you for your hard work, as well. (Applause.)

Nobody asked, but I'll tell you, I have talked to the President. When he got on the plane and left Iraq earlier, he called in. (Applause.) And he's doing great. I'm really proud of him, and I'm really proud of the Iraqi people, as well, for being able to develop this government with their new Prime Minister and then their whole cabinet that they have been able to put together. And I think it was a good meeting, and it was also -- the secure videoconference to the United States Cabinet, the Cabinet of the President at Camp David. So that was really terrific. (Applause.)

And I'm so happy to be in New Jersey, especially to be here for your next senator, Tom Kean. (Applause.) For Tom, public service is a family tradition -- and I want to tell you, there's nothing wrong with that. (Laughter.) Tom is the son and the grandson of public servants, and he learned important lessons from his family about serving your state, lessons that he's carried through his successful career as a volunteer firefighter, an EMT, and as a leader in the New Jersey State Senate. (Applause.)

In the United States Senate, Tom will continue to be a passionate advocate for New Jersey, bringing with him to Washington the principles of reform and efficiency developed here during his time in Trenton. In the State Senate, Tom has worked to end unethical government contracting, and in Washington he'll make sure that New Jersey's tax dollars are spent wisely and responsibly by the federal government.

In Trenton, Tom has opposed new taxes, as you just heard, and consistently voted against state budgets that would raise taxes. And in the U.S., Tom will be a supporter of tax cuts. The President's tax cuts that he most recently signed have fueled our economy and have helped add 5.3 million new jobs since 2003, meaning 5.3 million more Americans can get up every morning with the dignity and the sense of purpose that comes with a job. (Applause.)

Making sure New Jerseyans can keep more of their earnings is one way Tom is helping your state. But his work to make sure every child in New Jersey can grow up to be healthy and successful is another.

In his 2005 State of the Union address, President Bush announced the Helping America's Youth initiative, and he asked me to lead it. 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.

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've visited with gang intervention programs, where I've met young people who were leaving gangs and finding jobs. I've met with teenage dads who are in fatherhood programs to learn how to be nurturing and involved fathers in their children's lives.

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 now has a job at Home Depot -- and he was just named the Home Depot Employee of the Month. (Applause.)

All of these visits to these great programs around the United States culminated last October in the White House Conference on Helping America's Youth. At the conference, we introduced a community -- 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 these problems. The information is available on the website, -- g-o-v, that is. I urge you to look at the guide and to use it here in New Jersey, in your neighborhoods.

Helping New Jersey's children is one of Tom's top priorities. He's built strong after-school programs in your state, and he's sponsored legislation to improve and expand after-school activities for children throughout New Jersey.

Tom believes in the principles of educational accountability and excellence that define the President's No Child Left Behind Act. In Trenton, as a member of the Senate's Joint Committee on Public Schools, Tom worked to ensure that children in New Jersey receive a quality education.

New Jerseyans have already seen the benefits of improved public schools in their communities. And the entire country saw those benefits earlier this month -- in prime time, no less -- when a New Jersey public school student, Kerry Close, won the national spelling bee. (Applause.)

But Tom knows, as we all do, that the well-being of children in New Jersey and through America ultimately depends on our ability to keep them safe -- which requires success in our efforts to defeat terrorism and to increase liberty abroad. (Applause.)

Many New Jersey families were devastated by the terrorist attacks of September 11th, and Tom has been steadfast in his support on the war on terrorists. He stands with our troops, with the men and women of the United States military who are standing for us. (Applause.)

Tom's achievements remind us of why he must be elected to the United States Senate. (Applause.) America faces challenges that are too important to be reduced to politics. 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.

Ending our dependence on foreign oil, reforming our immigration system, rebuilding the Gulf Coast, and keeping our country safe 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 I know Tom will be part of a thoughtful and positive part of that dialogue. (Applause.)

This is just one reason why Tom is a wonderful leader for your state. If you look through his distinguished record of public service, you'll find many more.

Thank you so much for coming out today to support Tom. (Applause.) And I want to thank you in advance for all that you do, all the work that you'll do to make sure he's elected to the United States Senate.

Thank you all very, very much. (Applause.)

END 5:50 P.M. EDT

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