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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
October 27, 2006

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Vern Buchanan for Congress Reception
The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota
Sarasota, Florida

1:55 P.M. EDT

MRS. BUSH: Thank you all very much. Thank you very much, Sandy. Thank you, Sandy. Sandy, that was a very lovely introduction, and it was also fun for me to hear how you all met. Everyone is always interested, I think, in those kind of stories.

And especially when you're running for office, people want to know what your background is like and what you were like when you first met each other and what your parents are like, because what happens in politics is that your spouse is involved, whether they want to be or not. And I know that Sandy -- we all know that successful politicians are the ones whose families stand with them and are with them all the time.

And so I want to thank Sandy and your two boys, as well, for -- James and Matt -- for standing with their dad while he does this. Politics really ends up being a family business, and there's something terrific about being able to share all the ups and downs of politics, but especially the good parts -- the parts where you make friends that you have for the rest of your life. That's really one of the very best parts of it.

So thank you, Sandy, and to James and Matt for your support for Vern. And I want to thank each and every one of you in the audience for the very, very warm welcome.

I'm very happy to be here today to support Vern Buchanan for Congress. (Applause.) In the crowd also, I want to acknowledge State House Speaker Pro Tem, Leslie Waters is here. Leslie, where are you? (Applause.) Is she here? Oh, there she is, right there, great. Florida State Representative Nancy Detert is here, as well. (Applause.) Thanks so much, Nancy and Leslie. Thank you for your service and thanks for coming. State Senator Lisa Carlton is here, too. (Applause.) Thanks to all the Republican leaders that are here and the Republican officials. I'm so delighted to get to be with so many accomplished women. It does look like I'll have to say that Vern took a little few extra minutes this morning getting ready. (Laughter.)

It's great to be with so many women today to support Vern Buchanan's campaign for the United States Congress. Vern cares deeply about the people of Florida, and in Washington, he'll be a passionate advocate for the people of the 13th district.

Vern will help Florida families by improving employment opportunities in your state. He first learned the value of a job when he was a teenager, delivering newspapers to 70 homes a day, seven days a week. Vern will tell you that his paper route helped him save a lot of money, but he adds that he got into cars -- (laughter) -- so he spent some of that money. Sandy just told us about one of those cars.

After college, Vern went to work -- first in marketing, and then by starting his own printing company. Later he combined his love of cars with his love of business, and he bought Ocala Honda/Acura in 1992. He built that one enterprise into Buchanan Automotive Group, which today owns 20 franchises across Florida and the Southeast. Vern's efforts have helped his fellow Floridians become small business owners themselves, and have created hundreds of jobs for your state.

Vern will bring to Washington the principles of efficiency and accountability he developed during his business career. He'll ensure that Florida tax dollars are spent wisely and responsibly. Vern supports the Presidential Line Item Veto, which will help eliminate unnecessary spending from the federal budget. And in Congress, Vern will support President Bush's tax cuts. (Applause.) These tax cuts have fueled our economy, and they've added 6.6 million new jobs since 2003. And that means 6.6 million more Americans wake up every morning with the dignity and the sense of purpose that comes with a job. And here in Florida, your unemployment rate is a low 3.2 percent. Congratulations to the hard-working Floridians. (Applause.)

Something else Vern and the President have in common -- and this is something I share with them -- is a commitment to natural preservation. In 2003, President Bush announced the Preserve America Initiative, which encourages communities to safeguard both their natural and their historic treasures. Preserve America can boost local economies, because recognized landmarks attract visitors and businesses.

Vern Buchanan is an enthusiastic steward of Florida's natural resources. He understands how important the oceans are to your state's economy, and to Floridians' very way of life. As Vice Chairman of Sarasota's Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, Vern is helping advance our knowledge of Florida's coral reefs and coastal ecology. Mote Marine also rescues and cares for dolphins, whales, and sea turtles, protecting threatened ocean species.

And the lab monitors and researches red tide, helping reduce the effects of this harmful algae on Florida's marine life. Thank you, Vern, for supporting this vital preservation work. (Applause.)

One of the benefits of natural and historical preservation is that it gives our children more opportunities to learn about our country. Visits to aquariums or national parks or museums or monuments are great activities for young people, offering them healthy and positive ways to learn and to spend time with their families.

Vern Buchanan has a strong record of commitment to young people. He and Sandy are actively involved with their local Boys and Girls Clubs. Boys and Girls Clubs provide local youth with safe places to learn and play, and they help young people build character, self-confidence, and leadership skills under the guidance of caring adults. Thank you, Sandy and Vern, for supporting Boys and Girls Clubs, and helping the many young people that go to those clubs.

We all know, though, that the well-being of young people in Florida and throughout our country ultimately depends on our government's ability to keep them safe -- by defeating terrorism and increasing liberty abroad.

Vern Buchanan understands the needs of our troops at this crucial time in our country's history. After he graduated from high school, Vern served six years in the Michigan Air National Guard. And in Washington, Vern Buchanan will be a champion of the men and women of the United States military. (Applause.)

Thanks to our troops, the Iraqi people are now free from the oppression of Saddam Hussein, and are working to build a democratic future for their country.

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

All of us are proud of the men and women who are deployed around the world defending our country. Every day, thousands of these men and women risk their lives overseas to make sure that their families, and all of our families, are safe here in the United States. Their love of country, and of liberty, never wavers, and neither does their belief in our mission.

Many of these men and women have given their lives for this cause. Around the country, President Bush and I meet with their families. In military hospitals, we meet with their fellow soldiers who've been wounded in combat. And from our troops and their families, the President and I hear the same request: that we honor the sacrifice of these men and women by seeing the mission through. They ask the American people to stand with our troops. (Applause.)

Vern Buchanan appreciates our troops' sacrifice. He understands that this election is critical to the future of our country. And he knows that America faces challenges too important to be reduced to just 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 from terrorism are not easy tasks, but they are absolutely vital goals. To accomplish them, we must have serious national conversations, conducted with civility and respect.

The right to have these conversations is part of what makes our country great, and our democracy strong. We must be mindful that people around the world are listening to these discussions. Responsible candidates understand that the men and women of our military are risking their lives for us overseas, and that we must conduct our debate here at home in a way that does not jeopardize our troops in harm's way. It's very important now that all of us stand with Vern and our Republican candidates at this very challenging time in our history. (Applause.)

Thanks to each and every one of you for supporting Vern Buchanan. And thanks especially to all the volunteers for your hard work making the phone calls, knocking on the doors. You've already done so much to help Vern, and in the next two weeks, he'll need more of your energy and enthusiasm. So go to the phone banks, knock on those doors, talk to your friends and neighbors about Vern Buchanan and all of Florida's great Republicans. They need your support, and our country needs them. (Applause.)

Thanks so much, everybody. Thank you for coming out today. Thank you in advance for the hard work you're going to do over the next two weeks to make sure Vern Buchanan is elected to the United States Congress on November 7th.

Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

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