The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
October 11, 2006

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at a Bob Corker for Senate and Tennessee Republican Party Reception
Knoxville Convention Center
Knoxville, Tennessee

5:15 P.M. EDT

MRS. BUSH: Thank you very much, Bob. Thank you all. Thanks so much. Thank you for the very warm welcome to Tennessee. Happy to be here. Everybody have a seat.

Everybody seems happy to be here, just like I am. I don't know if that's leftover glowing from the Vols' big win over Georgia this weekend. (Applause.) I'm from the state with the other UT -- orange and white, no less.

I want to recognize Senator Lamar Alexander who's with us today. Senator, thank you so much for joining us and thank you for your great work for your state and for our country. (Applause.)

Congressman Jimmy Duncan is here. (Applause.) Congressman Duncan and Lynn are both here, as well, from the 2nd district, right here in Knoxville. (Applause.) Mayor Bill Haslam, the Mayor of Knoxville, is with us, and his wife Crissy. (Applause.) The Knox County Mayor, Mike Ragsdale, and his wife Kim are here, as well. Thank you all for joining us. (Applause.) And the Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party Bob Davis is here. Thank you so much, Bob. (Applause.)

And I especially want to recognize Elizabeth Corker. When your spouse is in politics, you're involved whether you want to be or not. (Laughter.) And we know that successful politicians are the ones whose families stand with them, who support them, who are there with them all the time. And thank you, Elizabeth, very much for your support of Bob. (Applause.)

I'm so happy to be here with you today to support Bob Corker's campaign for the United States Senate. Bob cares deeply about the people of your state, and in Washington, he'll be a passionate advocate for Tennessee's families.

Bob has already improved the lives of thousands of Tennesseans through his service as Mayor of Chattanooga. Under Mayor Corker's leadership, Chattanooga's violent crime rate dropped by half. Bob helped city homeowners by reducing Chattanooga's property taxes to their lowest rates since the 1950s. He developed the Outdoor Chattanooga Initiative, which encourages city residents to explore the majestic mountains and rivers of central Tennessee.

And through the improvements he made to Chattanooga's waterfronts, Bob helped to attract to the city an additional $2.1 billion in investment. These developments brought safe and affordable housing to Chattanooga's neighborhoods, built new headquarters for major businesses, like the Electric Power Board and Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and created good jobs for the people of Tennessee.

As Senator Corker, Bob will bring to Washington the principles of efficiency and accountability that have defined his public service and business career, ensuring that Tennessee tax dollars are spent wisely and responsibly.

Bob supports the Presidential Line Item Veto, which will help eliminate unnecessary spending from the federal budget. And in the Senate, Bob will support President Bush's tax cuts. (Applause.) These tax cuts have fueled our economy and added 5.7 million new jobs since 2003. This means 5.7 million more Americans wake up every morning with the dignity and sense of purpose that comes with a job.

There are few people more dedicated to creating jobs in Tennessee than Bob Corker. Bob first learned the value of employment as a teenager when he had jobs picking up trash and bagging ice in a cold freezer. After college, Bob worked as a construction laborer. He saved up $8,000 to start his own business -- a small business that eventually grew into a successful construction company, employing Americans in 18 states. And as Tennessee's Commissioner of Finance and Administration, Bob helped almost 40,000 Tennesseans move off welfare and into the workplace.

Offering young people the hope of good employment is one of the most important things we can do for our children. Another way we can help our young people is by steering them away from risky behaviors and 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 after-school programs. I've visited fatherhood initiatives. I've met with mentors and Big Brothers and Big Sisters. I've visited gang intervention programs, where I met with young people who are leaving gangs and finding jobs.

This afternoon I visited Communication Through Art here in Knoxville at the Knoxville Public Defenders Community Law Office. CTA -- Communication Through Art -- is a local program that uses arts to provide at-risk students with regular opportunities to express themselves creatively while being surrounded by caring adults.

All of these visits that I've done over the last year-and-a-half led to a conference on Helping America's Youth last October, and then to two regional conferences since then in Indianapolis and Denver.

At the conference, we introduced an online, interactive Community Guide. This guide helps concerned adults learn more about the problems the youth in your own communities face, and what local resources are available to address these problems. The guide is available at the Helping America's Youth website, which is -- that's g-o-v. I encourage you to look at the website and to use these resources here in your community.

Here in Tennessee, there are few advocates for children as dedicated as Bob Corker. He's especially committed to improving education. And as Mayor of Chattanooga, Bob brought accountability to the city's classrooms. He increased pay for excellent teachers, and during his tenure, local elementary and middle-school students improved their test scores in every subject.

Bob believes that one of the best ways to help children is to provide them with a stable living environment. Bob has worked in his community and throughout Tennessee to help more families -- and especially low-income families -- realize the dream of home ownership. He established a non-profit organization that has provided more than 10,000 Tennessee families with low-interest loans, and home maintenance training so they can take care of their own homes when they move into them.

We all know, though, that the well-being of young people ultimately depends on adults' ability to protect them, and we've been reminded of that in recent weeks by the school shootings in Colorado and Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Families across the country are saddened and troubled by these attacks. Yesterday the White House, in partnership with the Department of Justice and the Department of Education, hosted a national conference on school violence. The conclusions drawn from the conference will help affected communities heal in the wake of these tragedies, and will equip Americans with the information they need to ensure that their children can learn in safety.

But keeping young Tennesseans safe also requires protecting them from foreign threats, by defeating terrorism and increasing liberty abroad. And in the Senate, Bob Corker will be a champion of the men and women of the United States military.

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 prohibit half of its citizens from being educated. But now little girls are in school in Afghanistan.

All of us are proud of the young men and women who are deployed around the world defending our country overseas to make sure that our families are kept safe here at home in the United States.

Bob's dedication to the people of Tennessee, and his achievements, remind us of why he must be elected to the United States Senate.

Bob understands 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 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're absolutely vital goals. To accomplish them, we must have serious national conversations, conducted with civility and respect. And Bob Corker will be a positive and powerful part of that dialogue. (Applause.)

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

Thank you all very much for coming out to support Bob. Thank you for your generous support of his campaign. I urge you to redouble your efforts between now and November to make sure Bob Corker is your next United States senator.

Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

END 5:27 P.M. EDT

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