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CNN's American Morning On Cindy
CNN's AMERICAN MORNING 7:00 AM EST
Thursday, August 25, 2005
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: The war of words over Iraq escalates on the home front. Cindy Sheehan made an emotional return to Crawford, Texas, on Wednesday to resume her protest at "Camp Casey." President Bush also sent out a message Wednesday, meeting with military families in Idaho and enlisting the support of a military mother of his own. Are we seeing a new battle emerge, that of military moms?
Mike Allen of "The Washington Post" is just back from Crawford, Texas. He joins us now in our Washington bureau.
MIKE ALLEN, "WASHINGTON POST": Good morning, Carol.
COSTELLO: Well, let's talk with Tammy Pruett, because the president brought her up in his speech. She has four sons serving in Iraq. Four. After the president brought her up in his speech, she spoke out. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAMMY PRUETT, MILITARY MOTHER: We stand firm that we stand behind the president, that we continue this battle until it's done, and we al of our boys and women home safely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: And when you see pictures of her four sons serving there, it's just so powerful. I mean, clearly, this was President Bush's way of saying military families do support the war and do support my policies. But who's winning?
ALLEN: Well, Carol, in addition to the four sons, she had another son who had been over there earlier and her husband had been over there. So, she said good-bye to seven loved ones going over to Iraq.
The White House viewed this as sort of a Paul Harvey "rest of the story." They felt that the majority of military families who support the president had been ignored or, at best, given passing coverage by the news media.
As you mentioned, I was in Crawford over the weekend. And out at the coffee station that all of your viewers have seen at that big crossroads, there were military families there who support the president. And they really felt railroaded by the coverage.
So, the White House here is saying, look, if you want to play this game, we can play, too. We have more military families than you do. And you saw on the video on your air yesterday the amazing response that Tammy Pruett got from that National Guard audience.
So, the White House theory is if you put the president in friendly settings, show that Cindy Sheehan does not speak for all military families that although they're never convince the activists in Crawford that the broad American people might have a different idea about how the military feels.
COSTELLO: Cindy Sheehan has a few more weapons in her arsenal, though. I mean, every place the president stops to talk about support for the war, these ads are playing. So let's allow our viewers to listen to one of them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CINDY SHEEHAN, ANTIWAR MOM: You were wrong about the weapons of mass destruction. You were wrong about the link between Iraq and al Qaeda. You lied to us. And because of your lies, my son died. You said he died for a noble cause. What cause?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: And then Cindy Sheehan returned back to "Camp Crawford." A large picture of her son was hung up by her supporters. And you can see, she just broke down and cried. She need medical treatment right at the scene. I mean, scenes like this are quite powerful as well. So will her message gain momentum?
ALLEN: Well, Carol, you're right. It's very difficult to watch that video and not be touched by that and realize for the loss that she has faced and that 1,800 other families have faced.
But what Republicans will tell you is that Cindy Sheehan is a flawed messenger for this message. As you know, she has said the president is a war monger. She said that he's a terrorist. She said that he killed her son. The very words in that video, I think, point to her as an activist as opposed to someone who wants to have an honest conversation with the president.
Now the question is: Has she become sort of a logo of her bigger idea? Is her idea something...
COSTELLO: But, you know, Mike, even if she has, the president is fighting back with other military families. He's trying to get the message out that most military families support the war. But in the broader sense, if most of the American public doesn't support the war, does that message really matter?
ALLEN: Right. And that's why these next couple weeks are very crucial for the president. As you point out, in polls support for the war has been going down. Support for specifically for how the president has conducted it has been going down.
And so, in these two weeks before Labor Day, the president is giving three speeches, trying to remind the American people that the 9/11 Commission said that every time al Qaeda wins, that every time that a free nation shows a weakness that that emboldens them. He's trying to put these ideas to take a very complicated and difficult situation and point it in stark terms that to withdraw is to concede. We're going back to the election, where the idea is you're with us or you're with the terrorists.
COSTELLO: Oh, I wish we could continue, but we cannot. But thank you for joining us. Mike Allen of "The Washington Post."