The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
October 4, 2006

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Curt Weldon for Congress Breakfast
Springfield Country Club
Springfield, Pennsylvania

9:50 A.M. EDT

MRS. BUSH: Thank you all, thanks so much. Thank you very much, Congressman Weldon. Thank you for the very warm welcome to each and every one of you.

First, I'd like to express my deepest sympathy to the people of Pennsylvania, and especially the people of Lancaster County, for the loss of those precious girls. It's really -- I know President Bush joins me also in sending our love and our sympathy to the families and the loved ones of those children. It's really hard for all of us to understand how a one-room schoolhouse couldn't be safe. And it's really so -- such a heartbreaker for the people here, and the people, really, all over our country as we follow what happened. But I wanted everyone here in Pennsylvania to know that first.

Mary Weldon, thank you for joining us today. When your spouse is in politics, you're involved whether you want to be or not. (Laughter.) And we know that successful politicians have family members who stand with them and are with them all the time. And Mary, you're certainly that. So thank you very, very much for your support. (Applause.)

I'm delighted to be with all of you today to support Curt Weldon's campaign for the United States Congress. A lifelong resident of southeastern Pennsylvania, Curt cares deeply about the people of this state. And during his 19 years in Congress, Congressman Weldon has distinguished himself as a passionate advocate for families of the 7th district. (Applause.)

Curt strongly supports our country's first responders. Congressman Weldon has visited fire departments in all 50 states, and soon after he took office, he established the Congressional Fire Services Caucus to ensure that emergency workers have the resources they need to protect Pennsylvanians and people throughout our country.

Since 2001 fire departments in the 7th district have received more than $5 million in federal funding as part of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, which was passed in Congress because of Curt's leadership. And of course, many other fire departments around the country benefit, as well. (Applause.)

Congressman Weldon is helping Pennsylvania's families by keeping America's economy strong. Like my husband, Curt supports tax cuts. And this year, with Congressman Weldon's help, President Bush signed into law the largest tax relief package in America's history. These tax cuts have fueled the economy, and they've helped add 5.7 million new jobs since 2003. (Applause.) And that means 5.7 million more Americans wake up every morning with the dignity and the sense of purpose that comes with a job.

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

In Washington, Congressman Weldon has been an enthusiastic steward of our country's natural resources. Through his leadership on the House Science Committee, and as a member of the Congressional Oceans Caucus, Curt has sponsored legislation to protect the seas and the diverse marine species that live in them.

He supports the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, and is committed to preserving our country's green spaces and national historic sites, especially Pennsylvania's Revolutionary and Civil War battlefields.

And, as a member of the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, Congressman Weldon secured federal funding to protect bird life here in the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge.

Thank you, Congressman Weldon, for 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 museums, aquariums, monuments and national parks are great activities for young people, offering them healthy and positive ways to learn and to spend time with their families.

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, including two trips here in Pennsylvania, one of them to a Boys and Girls Club, where I visited a Passport to Manhood program for young boys and young men. It was the very first trip I made after the President announced the initiative.

But I've been all over 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 visited fatherhood initiatives and initiatives for young men. I've met with mentors, and Big Brothers and Big Sisters. I've visited gang intervention programs, where I met the 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 since in Indianapolis and Denver. At the conference, we introduced an online, interactive Community Guide. This guide helps concerned adults learn more about the problems facing youth in their own communities, and what local resources are available to address these problems. The guide is available on the Helping America's Youth website, and I encourage you to look at the website to see what you can do in your own communities. The website is -- that's g-o-v.

Congressman Weldon has a strong record of commitment to young people. In Congress, he supported legislation to keep harmful drugs out of southeastern Pennsylvanian communities, and to keeping gangs and violent crime off Pennsylvania streets. A former teacher, Curt has dedicated himself to improving educational opportunities for Pennsylvania's youth. He helped establish the Delaware County library system, and you know that's really close to my heart. (Applause.) And he has brought federal funding to libraries across the United States.

Congressman Weldon is especially supportive of young people with disabilities. He's helped fund programs for developmentally disabled children at the Child Guidance Resource Center in Havertown, and at the Children and Adults Disabilities and Educational Services School in Swarthmore.

And Congressman Weldon supported the IDEA Act -- I-D-E-A -- which provides millions of dollars to education programs for young people with disabilities.

We all know, though, that the well-being of young people ultimately depends on adults' ability to keep them safe. As we've seen in recent days by the school shootings in Colorado and Wisconsin, and of course, now, here in Pennsylvania. Families across the country are saddened and troubled by these attacks.

Next week, the White House, in partnership with the Department of Education and Justice, will host a National Conference on School Violence. The conference will help affected communities heal in the wake of these terrible tragedies, and will help equip Americans with the information they need to ensure that their children can learn in safety, which is what we all expect.

But keeping young Pennsylvanians safe also requires protecting them from foreign threats, by defeating terrorism and increasing liberty abroad.

Curt Weldon understands the needs of our troops at this crucial time in our country's history. As Vice Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Curt is a respected voice on issues vital to Pennsylvanians serving in uniform. And in the House, Curt is a champion of the men and women of the United States military. (Applause.) Thank you for that, Curt.

And thanks to our troops, the Iraqi people are now free from the oppression of Saddam Hussein. (Applause.) And in Afghanistan, women and girls can now be educated. (Applause.) It's hard for any of us to imagine a country that would prohibit half of its people from being educated. But now little girls are in school in Afghanistan.

All of us are so proud of the young men and women who are deployed around the world, defending our country overseas to make sure that our families are safe here in the United States. (Applause.)

Curt's dedication to the people of Pennsylvania, and his achievements, remind us of why he must be reelected to the United States Congress. (Applause.)

Congressman Weldon 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 are absolutely vital goals. (Applause.)

And to accomplish them, we must have serious national conversations, conducted with civility and respect. And Curt Weldon is a thoughtful, positive and powerful part of that dialogue. (Applause.)

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

Thank you very much for coming out to support Curt. (Applause.) Thank you for your generous support of his reelection. And I urge you to redouble your efforts between now and November to make sure Curt Weldon is reelected to the United States Congress.

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

END 10:03 A.M. EDT

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