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Bush gets first look at anti-war protest near ranch
By Patricia Wilson
Friday, August 12, 2005; 1:16 PM
CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - President Bush got his first look at an anti-war vigil near his ranch on Friday as his motorcade took him by the protest site lined with small white crosses representing fallen American soldiers in Iraq.
When Bush's black sport utility vehicle carried him past the site to a Republican fund-raiser, the protest leader, Cindy Sheehan, whose son was one of the nearly 1,850 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq, held up a sign that said: "Why do you make time for donors and not for me?"
Other signs said: "Iraq is Arabic for Vietnam" and "Bring Them Home Now." Some protesters held up white crosses as well.
The protest vigil began last Saturday and is being led by Sheehan, who has been demanding a meeting with Bush to discuss her opposition to the Iraq war.
Two rows of police officers faced the estimated 50 roadside protesters as Bush's 15-vehicle motorcade cruised by without slowing down.
He was headed to Stan and Kathy Hickey's Broken Spoke Ranch for a barbecue and ribs lunch to raise more than $2 million for the Republican National Committee. The 230 people attending were among the party's biggest donors.
Hundreds of small white crosses had been erected along the side of Prairie Chapel Road, each hand-painted with the name of a fallen soldier.
Sheehan's son, Casey, was killed in combat in Iraq in April 2004 and she met with Bush in June 2004, but she wants another meeting. The White House has refused.
With Americans increasingly questioning the U.S. involvement in Iraq, Bush tried to address Sheehan's concerns on Thursday.
"Listen, I sympathize with Mrs. Sheehan," Bush told reporters. "She feels strongly about her position. And she has every right in the world to say what she believes. This is America."
He said he has thought "long and hard" about her demand to "get out of Iraq now" and strongly disagreed, saying a premature withdrawal would betray the Iraqis just as they are being trained to defend themselves and allow for a U.S. pullout.
Sheehan's group, Gold Star Families for Peace, released a protest ad that the organization said would run on cable television channels near Bush's ranch during August.
"Mr. President, I want to tell you face to face how much this hurts. I love my country, but how many more of our loved ones need to die in this senseless war? How many more soldiers have to die before we say enough?" she said in the ad.
The total ad buy was put at $15,000.