AT THIS WRITING, THE PRESIDENTIAL election was still too close to call, but there is one thing that is certain: The NAHB may never have a more defining political moment than the speech President Bush delivered at this year's fall board of directors meeting in which he personally thanked builders for helping pull the economy through some tough times.

“It reflects well on housing's importance to the nation that the president was able to make time in his busy schedule to come and speak to us,” says NAHB president Bobby Rayburn. “The NAHB has done everything possible to elevate housing as an issue in the presidential campaign.”

Bush made the speech at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio, on Oct. 2. At the time, it was one of the president's most targeted speeches on the economy. Homeownership was a dominant theme.

“Homeownership rates are at an all-time high in America, nearly 70 percent,” Bush said. “I love that statistic.

“To build an ownership society, we'll help even more Americans buy homes,” continued the president, calling on Congress to pass his Zero Down Payment Initiative, which would eliminate the 3 percent down-payment requirement for families and individuals who buy homes with FHA-insured mortgages.

Bush also thanked the NAHB for supporting association health plans (AHPs), which would let small companies join forces through their trade associations to purchase lower-cost health care.

“To build an ownership society, we should help our fellow citizens get health care, especially coverage for themselves,” Bush said.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Columbus, OH.