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'Peace Mom' Leaves Camp, Her Mother Ill
By ANGELA K. BROWN, Associated Press Writer
The grieving woman who started an anti-war demonstration near President Bush's ranch nearly two weeks ago said Thursday she was leaving because her mother had a stroke.
Cindy Sheehan told reporters she had just received the phone call and was leaving immediately to be with her 74-year-old mother at a Los Angeles hospital.
"I'll be back as soon as possible if it's possible," she said. After hugging some of her supporters, Sheehan and her sister, Deedee Miller, got in a van and left for the Waco airport about 20 miles away.
Sheehan, whose 24-year-old son Casey died in Iraq, said the makeshift campsite off the road leading to Bush's ranch would continue. The camp has grown to more than 100 people, including many relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq.
Sheehan had vowed to remain there until Bush met with her or until his month-long vacation ended. Her protest inspired candlelight vigils across the country Wednesday night.
Bush has said he sympathizes with Sheehan. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said earlier Thursday that the president said Sheehan had a right to protest but that he did not plan to change his schedule and meet with her.
Two top Bush administration officials talked to Sheehan the day she started her camp, and she and other families met with Bush shortly after her son's death and before she became a vocal opponent of the war.
Michelle Mulkey, a spokewoman for Sheehan, who lives in Vacaville, Calif., said Sheehan hoped to be back in Texas within 24 to 48 hours. Mulkey said Sheehan's mother, Shirley Miller, was in a hospital emergency room and Sheehan didn't yet know how serious her condition was.