Laura Bush campaigns in Upper Valley

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(Host) First Lady Laura Bush campaigned in Lebanon, New Hampshire Thursday. The state is considered up for grabs in the upcoming election, and Bush urged supporters to work hard to re-elect the president.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Zind) Across the street from the Lebanon Opera House a small group of people held “Kerry for President” placards. But inside where the Lebanon High School band played for the waiting crowd, the sentiments were solidly Republican. Tickets for the event were distributed in advance by the Bush campaign.

The nation’s most hotly contested primary state is now a swing state in the general election and that’s the reason for Laura Bush’s visit.

“This nation is truly lucky and it is much better off because Laura Bush has been our First Lady for the last four years.” (Sound of crowd applause.)

(Zind) The president’s wife was accompanied by her daughter Jenna and by Cindy McCain, wife of Republican Senator John McCain.

In her remarks, Mrs. Bush touched on the familiar themes of the Republican campaign and said that women are faring well under the Bush presidency. She said the education standards under the No Child Left Behind Act are helping people, including many women, lead more productive lives.

(Bush) “And when these graduates go to work, I’m proud to say that a lot of them will go to work for a woman boss. en million American women own their own business and this sisterhood just keeps growing. And millions of families and small business owners are saving more of their own money because the pesident worked to pass the largest tax relief in a generation.”

(Zind) Onstage behind the First Lady sat a group of supporters, including New Hampshire party officials, Republican politicians and two soldiers who have just returned from Iraq. It was Laura Bush’s comments about the war in Iraq that drew the most enthusiastic response from the audience.

(Bush) “And because we acted, the people of Iraq are free from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein.” (Sound of crowd applause.)

(Zind) The First Lady didn’t directly refer to Democratic challenger John Kerry, but she accused the president’s opponents of distorting the Bush record.

Kerry plans to visit the state on Monday.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind in Lebanon, New Hampshire.

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