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Mother's Texas vigil draws support


Pioneer Press (Minnesota)
BY ANGELA K. BROWN
Associated Press

CRAWFORD, Texas — Cindy Sheehan's eyes well with tears when she talks about her oldest son, Casey, an easygoing young man with a quiet wit.

Casey joined the Army in 2000, never imagining he would see combat. Five days after he arrived in Iraq last year, the 24-year-old was killed in Sadr City.

Sheehan, 48, knows nothing can bring back her son, but she wants to talk to President Bush. The Vacaville, Calif., mother has been camping out along a road near his ranch since Saturday, vowing to remain until his Texas vacation ends later this month.

"Before my son was killed, I used to think that one person could not make a difference," she said Wednesday under a tent where she has slept since arriving. "But one person that is surrounded and supported by millions of people can be heard."

Speaking with reporters at his ranch Thursday, Bush expressed sympathy for Sheehan.

"She feels strongly about her position. And she has every right in the world to say what she believes," Bush said.

"And I thought long and hard about her position," he said. "I've heard her position from others, which is: Get out of Iraq now. And it would be a mistake for the security of this country and the ability to lay the foundations for peace in the long run if we were to do so."

Bush's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, and a deputy White House chief of staff talked to Sheehan on Saturday. She said the meeting, which she called "pointless," lasted 20 minutes. The White House said it lasted 45 minutes.

By Thursday, about 50 people had joined her cause, pitching tents in muddy, shallow ditches and hanging anti-war banners; two dozen others have sent flowers. Her name was among the most popular search topics Wednesday on Internet blogs.

But not everyone supports her. Kristinn Taylor, co-leader of the Washington, D.C., chapter of FreeRepublic.com, said Sheehan's protest is misguided and is hurting troop morale.

Locally, several dozen people gathered on University Avenue near U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman's office Thursday evening to show support for Sheehan. The rally lasted from 5 to 7 p.m. Another rally for Sheehan is planned for 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. today outside the WCCO-TV studio on 11th Street and Nicollet Avenue.

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