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Protesters on both sides of Iraq war follow Bush

Mon Aug 29, 2005 10:19 PM ET

By Jeremy Pelofsky

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, California (Reuters) - President George W. Bush was greeted by Iraq war supporters and protesters on Monday as he interrupted his Texas vacation to promote a new Medicare prescription drug program.

Hundreds of demonstrators for and against the Iraq war staged protests near Rancho Cucamonga, California, where Bush wove comments on Iraq into a Medicare speech to a group of senior citizens.

Bush said progress was being made in Iraq despite the ongoing attacks on U.S. and Iraqi security forces and Sunni opposition to the draft constitution.

"Success in Iraq is vital for peace ... and therefore the United States of America and our coalition will continue to work with the Iraqis to build a democracy," Bush said.

Outside the event, Bush backers with signs reading "Support Our President" squared off against critics with signs saying: "A Bush War is a Bad War."

Police separated the two sides, which each numbered about 200 people.

Anti-war protesters camped out near Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, where he has been on a month-long vacation, announced details for a bus tour across the country that will end in Washington late next month.

Groups supporting Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq last year, said three buses carrying members of military families and anti-war veterans will leave Crawford next week on different routes heading to the U.S. capital.

Sheehan has been camped near the president's ranch seeking a second meeting with Bush and calling for the withdrawal of U.S. forces in Iraq.

Supporters who have gathered there with her plan to take the campaign to other towns and cities along before converging in Washington late next month to press their message with lawmakers, the sponsoring groups said on their Web site ( Sheehan plans to briefly join the bus tour.

Bush met with Sheehan once shortly after her son's death.

With almost 1,900 U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war, Bush's approval rating has fallen to new lows and he is under increasing pressure from critics to finish training a new Iraqi security forces and bring American soldiers home.

Bush has stressed repeatedly that he will not prematurely pull the troops out of Iraq.

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