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Bush preparing to leave ranch


Peace icon Joan Baez performs anti-war songs at protest camp
07:03 AM CDT on Monday, August 22, 2005
By ANDREW BECKER / The Dallas Morning News

CRAWFORD, Texas – President Bush spent a quiet day at his Crawford ranch Sunday, a day before he is to travel to Utah, where is scheduled to explain why U.S. troops must remain in Iraq.

The renewed attention to the war came as peace activists, camping near the president's ranch, heard a performance Sunday evening by peace movement icon Joan Baez.

Today, the president is set to arrive in Salt Lake City to address the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention. From Utah he'll make his first visit as president to Idaho, where he will spend two days at a resort before speaking Wednesday to military families near Boise.

Meanwhile, appearing on ABC's This Week, cyclist Lance Armstrong said Sunday that he set a personal one-day record for lobbying after a two-hour bike ride with the president Saturday. The cancer survivor and seven-time Tour de France winner asked Mr. Bush over a post-ride lunch to spend more federal money on cancer research.

The topic of the Iraq war did not come up during their 17-mile ride, Mr. Armstrong said. As for the president's ability on a bike, he said Mr. Bush can ride. "That old boy can go," Mr. Armstrong said. "I didn't think he'd punish himself that much, but he did."

In the balmy night Sunday, Ms. Baez, a leading figure in the 1960s peace movement, performed mostly war protest songs, including "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," for more than 30 minutes. She took requests from the audience of 350 people.

Several speakers preceded Ms. Baez, including Liz Carpenter, a longtime family friend and spokeswoman for Lady Bird Johnson. Ms. Carpenter, 85, told the crowd to "wage peace."

The protesters' Camp Casey, which expanded over the weekend, is named for Army Spc. Casey Sheehan, who was killed last year in Iraq. His mother, Cindy Sheehan, has led an anti-war vigil along the road near the president's ranch.

Ms. Sheehan is seeking a meeting with Mr. Bush to ask him to remove troops from Iraq. She met with him earlier, along with other grieving families, after her son died in April 2004.

The president has said he sympathizes with Ms. Sheehan, but he has not agreed to meet with her.

Supporters of the war effort have also periodically mobilized outside the president's ranch, often facing off with protesters.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

E-mail abecker@dallasnews.com

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