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Texan Karen Hughes administered oath

By J. Lyn Carl,

Austin, TX –

Texan Karen Hughes, longtime adviser to President George W. Bush, today was sworn in by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Ambassador in a ceremony at the U.S. State Department.

Bush, First Lady Laura Bush and Hughes' husband Jerry, son Robert, daughter Lauren and other family members were all on hand for the swearing-in ceremony.

Before Hughes was administered the oath of office, Bush praised his longtime aide as a person with "a passionate heart" and "brilliant mind." Hughes' long association with the president began when Bush served as Governor of Texas and she was among his top aides. When Bush was elected President, Hughes trekked to Washington, D.C., with him as one of his chief advisers. She returned to Austin while her son Robert completed high school. Now that Robert is enrolled at Stanford University, Hughes is returning to D.C. to become a part of the Bush Administration.

Noting that the nation is still in a war on terror, Bush said to succeed in that war, the United States must effectively explain the nation's policies and fundamental values to people around the world. He called it an "incredibly important" mission that he has asked "one of America's most talented communicators" to take on.

Noting Hughes has been one of his "closest and most trusted advisers" for more than a decade, Bush said the Austin resident "understands the miracle of America" because she has lived it - rising from a working mother to serve at the highest level of the nation's government.

"America is a strong and resilient nation," said the President, noting its people have the spirit, resources and determination to overcome any challenge. He cited the challenges citizens along the Gulf Coast are facing in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina - where thousands of homes have been lost and where many residents have lost loved ones and all of their possessions. "In this time of struggle, the American people need to know we're not alone," said Bush, citing prayers and offers of assistance "from around the world."

From cash from Afghanistan, to tents from Israel, to oil from Kuwait, Bush said more than 100 nations have offered assistance. "To every nation, province and community across the globe, our entire nation thanks you for your support."

Citing the upcoming fourth anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the United States, Bush said, "In the war on terror, the world's civilized nations face a common enemy." He said their strategy is to force those who love freedom to retreat so they can topple governments in the Middle East and turn that region into "a safe haven for terrorism."

Bush said that war will not be won by force of arms alone. "We must defeat the terrorists on the battlefield and also in the battle of ideas," he said, by fighting their views and ideas. "The only way to achieve lasting peace is to offer a hopeful alternative - spreading the hope of freedom."

Bush said Rice and Hughes "understand that spreading the message of freedom requires an aggressive effort." He said their agenda includes marshalling all of the resources of the federal government to ensure that public diplomacy is carried out as part of the mission of all federal agencies; using the American public in its diplomacy efforts; improving the government's capability to confront terrorist propaganda quickly "before myths take root" in the minds of people across the world; and encouraging Americans to learn about the language and culture of countries across the Middle East.

"We are living in dangerous and challenging times," said the President, "yet this is also a moment of great hope and opportunity." He said Hughes will deliver the message of freedom with "compassion, humility and determination" and will help America seize this moment of opportunity by working with other nations to "replace tyranny with tolerance and overcome hatred with hope."

Rice said with Hughes as Under Secretary, the United States would be able to show the world "the true heart of America," where citizens believe "no corner of the earth should have to live in tyranny" and all people should "bask in freedom."

After being sworn in, Hughes told the attendees that she was "overwhelmed" by the "great honor and privilege of serving my country." She noted that while in Austin last week, she volunteered as the city welcomed 5,000 hurricane evacuees from Louisiana. She said the outpouring of support for the evacuees was not only in Austin, but "repeated across Texas and across America" while the same spirit of generosity was seen as "governments and people across the world offered help."

The response to that natural disaster and the response to the man-made disaster from the 9-11 attacks allowed the world to witness "our common humanity, the decency that binds us together as civilized human beings." She said what binds people as human beings is "much greater than even the important matters on which we sometimes disagree," adding that there is no more urgent challenge than the need to foster greater respect and understanding with countries of other cultures and faiths."