The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
October 12, 2006

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at a Chris Chocola for Congress Reception
The Century Center
South Bend, Indiana

1:16 P.M. EDT

MRS. BUSH: Thank you all. Thank you very much, and thank you, Chris. Thank you for the very, very warm introduction, Chris, and the special welcome from each one of you to Indiana. I'm so happy to be here.

Chris is wrong, I'll have to say. The hard job is the President's. There's no doubt about that. But I'm so happy that I have the chance to support him and to be there with him as he and our country face the challenges that's part of our history right now.

And I'm also happy to have the opportunity to campaign for our candidates around the United States. It's very important that Chris is reelected, and so I'm really happy to be here with him. (Applause.)

But Chris is right that when you're the family of a politician, you're involved in politics whether you want to be or not. So I especially want to acknowledge Sarah Chocola today and Chris's children, Colin and Carolina, for their support of their dad and their husband. We all know that the most successful politicians are the ones whose families stand with them and are there with them all the time. So thank you, Sarah and Colin and Carolina. (Applause.)

Now, I understand that there are some students here from Harrison Primary Center and Perley Primary Center. Is that right? Good, here's one right there, great. Well, both of these schools are recipients of Laura Bush Foundation grants, which are grants that go to school libraries across the United States. The Laura Bush Foundation was founded in 2001, and we've given grants to about 140 schools across the United States every single year. And then last year, after Hurricane Katrina, we formed a special Gulf Coast Library Recovery fund that so far has given 10 -- actually 20 grants to Gulf Coast school libraries as they're being rebuilt.

The Laura Bush grants that these two schools received are not big grants. They're enough for a lot of materials. But the Gulf Coast school library grants are quite large, because it costs about $50,000 to stock a basic elementary school library, and about $100,000 to stock a basic high school library. And that's building it from the ground up -- but only for materials, not supplies and other things. I thought you might just be interested to know that two schools are represented that got Laura Bush grants here.

We're also joined -- and I love this story -- by students and teachers from Jackson Intermediate, Hay Elementary and Hamilton Elementary. (Applause.) Last month, the children from these schools began collecting books to send to Liberia. Liberia is an African country, as you all know, that has a special and close relationship with the United States, because it was founded by freed slaves from the United States.

I was fortunate to represent the United States at the inauguration of Liberia's new President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. And in the brochure, the inauguration brochure that we all had on our seat, was a list of all the presidents of Liberia, and the first several, five or six, were born in Kentucky or Maryland or other states. And so Liberia has always had a special relationship with our country.

But Liberia has also just come through a very tough and long, devastating civil war, during which all of the country's libraries were burned or destroyed. And after many years of conflict, now Liberia is starting to recover, and the country's first public library is under construction.

When students from Jackson, Hay and Hamilton schools heard about this, they began a book drive to stock this new library. Their goal was to collect 10,000 books in two weeks. Today is the last day of their book drive, and the school children have collected more than 35,000 books for Liberia's new library. (Applause.)

These books will be presented in a few weeks to Liberia's new President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who is the first woman ever to be elected on the continent of Africa. She's a role model to women and girls everywhere, and she's an inspiring leader with a strong belief in democracy and education.

Education is vital to every country, and it's especially important in Liberia now as they build -- try to rebuild their country, restore their economy and their civil society. And a good education begins with reading, as we all know. So thank you so much to the students, and to the teachers involved in this project, especially Carrie Cannon, the teacher at Jackson Intermediate Center, Intermediate Center, who organized the book drive, for your support of the Liberian people. Thank you all very, very much. (Applause.)

And thanks to each and every one of you for coming out today to support Chris Chocola's campaign for the United States Congress. (Applause.) Chris cares deeply about the people of this state, and in Washington, he's distinguished himself as a passionate advocate for the 2nd district.

Chris is helping Indiana's families keep more of their own earnings by bringing to Congress the principles of efficiency and accountability that have defined his public service. Through his leadership on the House Budget and Ways and Means Committees, Congressman Chocola is ensuring that Indiana's tax dollars are spent responsibly and wisely. He's sponsored legislation to make the federal budget process more accountable, and he supports the Presidential Line Item Veto, which will help eliminate unnecessary federal spending.

In the House, Chris's leadership helped pass President Bush's tax cuts. These tax cuts have fueled our economy, and they've helped add 5.7 million new jobs since 2003. And that means 5.7 million more Americans 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 Indiana than Chris. Congressman Chocola has helped pass legislation that offers tax credits to small businesses for each new job they create. He also supports Indiana's major industries. Corn production is vital to Indiana's economy, and one of the most promising uses for corn is as an alternative source for energy.

In the House, Chris supported the 2005 Energy Bill, which attracted three new bio-diesel and 12 new ethanol plants to Indiana. (Applause.) These facilities will provide a new market for Hoosier farmers to sell their corn, and it will create hundreds of new jobs in your state.

And before he came to Washington, Chris worked at CTB International, a northern Indiana company that manufactures agricultural equipment. When Chris started at CTB, it was a small family business. Chris worked his way up to become CEO, and when he left the company in 2002 to enter public service, CTB had expanded its business to more than 100 countries around the world, and employs almost 1,500 people in Indiana.

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 young people is by steering them away from dangerous 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 to 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, and met with young people who are leaving gangs and finding jobs.

All of these visits led to a White House Conference on Helping America's Youth last October, and then to two regional conferences, one of them in Indianapolis. That he conference, we introduced an online, interactive Community Guide. This guide helps concerned adults learn more about the problems facing youth in your own communities. When you get online with this guide, you can type in your own community, and see what problems youth in your community are facing, and then you can find what local resources you already have to address these problems. The guide is available on the Helping America's Youth website, which is -- that's g-o-v. I encourage you to look at this website and use these resources here all over your state.

Chris Chocola has a strong record of commitment to young people. In the House, he co-authored the 529 College Savings Plan, which President Bush signed into law in August. This legislation allows families to save for their children's higher education tax-free, helping millions of young people in Indiana and across the United States realize the dream of a college education.

Here in Indiana, Chris and Sarah are actively involved with local Boys and Girls Clubs. Sarah serves on the Goshen club's board of directors. Boys and Girls Clubs provide local youth with safe places to learn and play, and help young people build character, self-confidence, and leadership skills under the guidance of a caring adult. Thank you very much, Chris, and thank you, Sarah, for supporting this important work. (Applause.)

We all know, though, that the well-being of young people in Indiana and throughout our country ultimately depends upon our government's ability to keep them safe, by defeating terrorism and increasing liberty abroad. In Congress, Chris is a champion of the men and women of the United States military. (Applause.)

And with us today in the audience is Deb Meyer, the mother of Private First Class Jason Meyer, who was killed in Iraq in 2003. Deb has two other sons who are also serving in the military. Each one of us, Deb, thanks you and honors you and respects you. So thank you and your family very much for your service. (Applause.)

And thanks to our troops, the Iraqi people are now free from the oppression of Saddam Hussein. And in Afghanistan, women and girls can now be educated. It's hard for us to imagine a country where half of the population was prohibited 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 in the United States.

Chris's dedication to the people of Indiana, and his achievements, remind us of why he must be reelected to the United States Congress.

Chris 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 Chris Chocola is a positive and powerful part of that dialogue. (Applause.)

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

Thank you all for coming out to support Chris. Thank you for your generous support for his reelection. I urge you to redouble your efforts between now and November to make sure Chris Chocola is reelected to the United States Congress.

Thank you, each one of you. (Applause.)

END 1:31 P.M. EDT

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