The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
August 30, 2006

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at a Mike McGavick for Senate Breakfast
The Westin Bellevue
Bellevue, Washington

9:42 A.M. PDT

MRS. BUSH: Thank you, Mike. Thank you very, very much for your kind introduction, and thanks to each and every one of you for coming out today to support Mike and to say hello to me. I appreciate it very much.

Mike just told you about his tour on the RV, that he spent the summer on his "Open Mike" tour, traveling around the state in a 37-foot, bright red RV, holding open forums behind an old-fashioned radio mic.

Well, this morning, Mike is letting me stand in for him at the "Open Mike." I'm just glad I didn't have to travel in that RV -- (laughter) -- all the way here from the other Washington. So thank you very much for asking me, Mike.

Gaelynn, thank you for your very kind introduction, too. Gaelynn said something that's really true: In politics, it's all the family. The whole family is involved whether they want to be or not. And maybe they're only involved because they're the children who hear things about the person they love that they don't like, or maybe they're on the trips with them, like their boys were. But the fact is, politics is a family business. And the sacrifice that you make is worth it in every single way.

I didn't ever imagine 20 years ago that I would have ever been here. And it's been unbelievable. It's a huge privilege to be able to serve our country. And I want to thank all of you -- thank you for your support for my husband, thank you for your love of our country, and I want to thank Mike and Gaelynn especially for being willing to serve. Thank you all a lot. (Applause.)

And of course, I want to acknowledge Congressman Dave Reichert. Dave, thank you for your service to our country. Rob McKenna, your Attorney General, thank you, Rob. Former Senator Slade Gorton is here. Thank you very much, Slade, for your long-time service to our country. And of course, Jennifer Dunn, my very good friend. Thank you so much for being here, Jennifer. (Applause.)

The Washington State Republican Chair, Diane Tebelius is here, as well. I want to thank all of you for coming out early this morning to support Mike McGavick in his campaign for the United States Senate.

Mike mentioned earlier that I've been involved in literacy on an international scale -- and I just wanted to tell you, because someone in the room, Gerri Elliott, is going to be involved in it -- and in a couple of weeks, during the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, when world leaders are all in New York along with their spouses and their foreign ministers and their ambassadors to the U.N., I'm going to host a Conference on Global Literacy at the New York Public Library, in partnership with UNESCO, and with the United States Department of Education and the United States Department of State. And Gerri Elliott is going to be there. She's going to actually be the moderator of one of the panels, which is called "Economic Empowerment through Literacy." So I want to thank her very much for being a part of that and being a role model to all these world leaders that will be visiting New York then and talking about ways we can spread literacy, not only across our country but across the world.

One thing great about Mike McGavick is that he was born and raised in Seattle, and he cares deeply about his fellow Washingtonians. As chief of staff to another Washington Senator, Slade Gorton, Mike learned the values of civility and cooperation that are so important in the Senate. And that's something he touched on just then when he spoke. And like Senator Gorton, Mike will make the issues important to the families of Washington state his first priorities in Washington, D.C.

Mike brings to the Senate the principles of efficiency and accountability that have defined his successful business career. He'll ensure that Washington state tax dollars are spent wisely and responsibly. He supports the Presidential Line Item Veto, which will help eliminate unnecessary spending from the federal budget.

And in the Senate, Mike will support tax cuts. (Applause.) Tax cuts have fueled our economy, and they've helped add over 5.5 million new jobs to the United States since 2003 -- meaning 5.5 million people wake up every morning with the dignity and the sense of purpose that come with a job.

There are few people more dedicated to creating jobs in your state than Mike. In 2001, one of this state's largest employers, the Safeco Insurance Company, faced almost certain bankruptcy. But when Mike took over as Safeco's CEO, his leadership skills -- his common sense, his commitment to accountability and responsibility, and his willingness to make tough decisions and stand by them -- turned the company around. By 2004, Safeco was profitable again -- saving the company from going out of business, and saving thousands of jobs for Washingtonians. (Applause.)

And these jobs represent more than paychecks for Washington families. They offer Washington's young people the hope of good employment, which is one of the most important things we can do for young people across our country.

Another way we can help young people is by guiding them toward the knowledge and the self-respect they need to build successful lives.

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 learn to make wise decisions for their lives is at the heart of Helping America's Youth.

Since the President announced the initiative, 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 seen fatherhood initiatives. I've met with mentors and Big Brothers and Big Sisters. I've visited gang intervention programs, and met with young people who are leaving gangs and finding jobs.

All of these visits led to the White House Conference on Helping America's Youth last October, and then to two regional conferences recently in Indianapolis and Denver. At the conferences, we introduced an online, interactive Community Guide. This guide helps concerned adults learn more about the problems facing youth in their own communities, and learn about what local resources are available to address these problems. The information is available on the Helping America's Youth website, which is -- that's g-o-v. I urge you to look at the website, and to use this website in your own communities here in Washington state to address the problems that your young people face.

Mike is also committed to the well-being of young people. He's especially dedicated to an issue close to my heart, and he mentioned it earlier: early childhood literacy. Mike understands that education is vital to every child's success, and that learning begins in the very first years of a child's life. As CEO of Safeco, Mike worked with other Washington business leaders to launch the Business Partnership for Early Learning -- which will invest more than $4 million over the next five years in early-learning initiatives across the United States.

We all know, though, that the well-being of families in Washington and throughout our country ultimately depends on our government's ability to keep them safe -- by defeating terrorism and increasing liberty abroad. In the Senate, Mike McGavick will be a champion of the men and women of the United States military. (Applause.)

Thanks to the men and women in uniform, the Iraqi people are now free from the oppression of Saddam Hussein, and working now to build a democratic future for their country. President Bush has pledged the American people will stand with them as they build their new democracy.

In Afghanistan, women and girls can now be educated. (Applause.) It's hard for us to imagine a country that would forbid its citizens from being educated. But now, little girls and boys are in school all over Afghanistan.

Mike's dedication to the people of Washington, and his achievements, remind us of why he must be elected. Mike understands -- and he just told you this -- that America faces challenges too important to be reduced to simple 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 depending on foreign oil, reforming our immigration system, 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 must have serious national conversations, conducted with civility and respect. And Mike McGavick will be a thoughtful, positive and powerful part of that dialogue. (Applause.)

This is just one reason why Mike makes a wonderful leader for Washington. When you look through his distinguished record of public service, you'll find many more.

Thank you very much for coming out to support Mike. Thank you for your generous support for his election. I urge you to redouble your efforts between now and November to make sure Mike McGavick is elected to the United States Senate.

Thank you all very much.

END 9:54 A.M. PDT

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