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First Lady Guarantees Hispanics Will Do Well with Bush

 By María Peña

(Translated from Spanish)

Washington, Oct. 19 oct (EFE).- The U.S. Hispanic community can be certain that with George W. Bush in the White House, their social and economical condition during the next four years will improve, First Lady Laura Bush said in an interview with EFE.

"I hope that the Hispanic community keeps President Bush in mind because he shares their values, the family, religion and military services values,” said Laura Bush during an interview in the White House’s Map Room.

During the last few days of a tough election, the First Lady of the United States, 57, has completely devoted herself to Bush’s reelection campaign, with the conviction that her country now needs continuity in government.

The image of Laura Bush is featured in several magazine covers and TV shows, and in addition, she is the first First Lady to tape a radio address to the nation.

Her approval rating is 74 percent –higher than her husband’s 50 percent – and, according to analysts, her distinguished performance in the campaign could help tip the balance for Bush.

With only two weeks to go in the presidential elections, some opinion polls give Bush a slight advantage over his Democratic rival John Kerry, while others point to a statistical tie.

Responding to criticism from the Democratic opposition that Bush has "abandoned" Hispanics, Laura Bush insisted that Hispanics "have done well" under the Republican Administration and "will do well" if Bush wins next Nov. 2.

She listed some of the Bush Administration’s accomplishments to improve conditions for the Hispanic minority in the United States: more than two million Latino businesses have all they need for success, and the number of minority homeowners has reached a record level, she said.

Asked about anti-immigrant groups that are part of the Republican Party, she emphasized that these groups don’t represent the whole party and that, in any case, "that’s not the way President Bush thinks".

"I hope that people know that when he (Bush) was governor of Texas and that proposition (187) came up in California to deny services to undocumented immigrants, he wrote an editorial against it in The New York Times", Laura Bush said.

She reiterated that as governor of the state of Texas, Bush "knows well the problems linked to life in the border" and keeps his commitment so that Hispanics and other minorities have greater educational and business opportunities.

Last January, Bush offered a migration reform plan that contemplates a temporary legalization program, but it hasn’t been the subject of hearings or debates in Congress.

The First Lady, previously reluctant to participate in politics, uses her privileged position to promote various social causes, such as education, the fight against cancer, children’s health and women’s right to decide their own future.

The First Lady spoke carefully and energetically about the "No Child Left Behind" Act, the educational reform Bush signed in 2001 and that has been one of the favorite targets of the Democratic opposition.

Laura Bush described as "alarming" the high dropout rate among Hispanic youth –in 2001 it was 27 percent nationwide, but higher in some districts- and insists that the educational reform offers remedies to correct the unfair "achievement gap" between whites and ethnic minorities.

She also rejected Democrats’ criticism about the lack of federal funding for the public educational system, by highlighting that the government’s priority is "that every child in every neighborhood get a good education."

According to the White House, since 2001, federal funding for elementary and secondary education has increased 49 per cent.

Laura Bush faces a hectic schedule, political meetings and innumerable speeches, all geared toward keeping her husband of 27 years in the White House for four more years. EFE


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