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Bush Motorcade Ignores Protesters

President George Bush and his motorcade passed the growing camp of war protesters outside his ranch Friday without incident.

As Mr. Bush passed on his way to and from a political fundraiser, law enforcement blocked two intersecting roads where the demonstrators have camped out all week. Officers required the group to stand behind yellow tape, but no one was asked to leave.

The motorcade didn't stop.

Cindy Sheehan of Vacaville, Calif., whose 24-year-old son Casey died in Iraq last year, started the vigil along the road leading to Mr. Bush's ranch, held a sign that read: "Why do you make time for donors and not for me?"

On Friday, Mr. Bush arrived before noon at a neighbor's ranch for a barbecue that was expected to raise at least $2 million for the Republican National Committee.

It was unclear whether Mr. Bush, riding in a black Suburban with tinted windows, saw the demonstrators.

Sheehan says she wants to meet with him again, they spoke in June 2004, in light of information since then discrediting the war rationale that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Sheehan, 48, set up camp last weekend a few miles from Mr. Bush's ranch, and the group with her has now grown to more than 100.

Barbara Porchia, whose son died two years ago in Iraq, joined Sheehan on Thursday.

"These are our children and I think we deserve to know the real reasons behind this war," Porchia said in a telephone interview Friday.

"I think what America is not understanding is there are a lot of people in pain here," she said. "We've lost children. We've lost loved ones. You could get some peace if you knew what was going on."

Despite the growing numbers of people joining Sheehan, demonstrators are facing increased antagonism from locals and opposition from some military families.

More drivers are speeding and blaring horns continuously as they pass the camp, which started Saturday as grieving mother Cindy Sheehan's simple peace vigil. It has grown to about 100 people, with more expected from across the nation.

Protesters are digging in their heels, vowing to stay by their tents in the heat or rain until President Bush talks to Sheehan or until his five-week ranch visit ends later this month.

Mr. Bush commented on the protests for the first time Thursday, saying he sympathizes with Sheehan and has tried to comfort many slain soldiers' relatives. He did not say whether he will meet with Sheehan.

"Listen: I sympathize with Mrs. Sheehan. She feels strongly about her position. And she has every right in the world to say what she believes. This is America. She has a right to her position," Mr. Bush said.

He also acknowledged that some families of U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq want to bring the troops home now, but said that would be a big mistake.

"Pulling the troops out would send a terrible signal to the enemy," he said.

For Cindy Sheehan, the president's words weren't enough, CBS News Senior White House Correspondent Bill Plante reports.

"I don't want his compassion or his sympathy, because I know it's not real," Sheehan said. "What I want is answers to my questions."

The White House, while reluctant to criticize Sheehan, points out that the president met with her and other families of the fallen a year ago and Friday put out a list of 24 such gatherings with 900 family members.


While Sheehan has been joined by dozens of other anti-war protesters,
and her cause has been taken up by high-profile liberal groups
like MoveOn.org, her efforts are drawing criticism as well. In an e-mail to the Drudge Report, members of her husband's family said, "She now appears to be promoting her own personal agenda and notoriety at the expense of her son's good name and reputation."

Sheehan says she's always been at odds politically with her Republican in-laws.

"When they voted for the man who my husband and I consider killed our son, that was the thing that was the last straw," Sheehan said.

Although authorities have not arrested anyone or forced the protesters to move, more residents have complained about the group parking on the edge of private property or blocking an intersecting road, according to the McLennan County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies went to the site Thursday with county health inspectors to see if conditions were sanitary but said they found no problems. Protesters said they have used restrooms at the Crawford Peace House several miles away but that portable toilets will be brought to the camp.

Austin attorney James C. Harrington, director of the Texas Civil Rights Project, went to the site Thursday to make sure the group's rights were not being violated. He said he may file a federal lawsuit seeking to allow the protesters closer to Bush's ranch.

On Internet chat rooms and blogs, some organizations and soldiers' relatives are criticizing the protest, saying participants are trying to promote a left-wing agenda and lower troop morale. They say Sheehan does not represent their views on the war with Iraq.

"You have hundreds of people protesting there; you have thousands upon thousands who are not," Becky Davis of Orrington, Maine, who has three sons in the military, told The Associated Press. "A lot of military families I've talked to think it's almost sickening to watch."

Davis says she doesn't know how she would react if one of her sons died in Iraq. But she said she would still support the war because she believes Saddam Hussein was an inhumane dictator who posed a direct threat to the U.S.

"My sons made me promise not to go off the deep end and protest if they got killed ... (because) they were doing what they wanted to do," Davis said. "They volunteered, and they very much believe in their mission."

Protesters say they support the troops.

"We can be proud of our soldiers and ashamed of our government at the same time," said Tammara Rosenleaf, whose husband is stationed at Fort Hood and is to be deployed to Iraq this fall.

Nearly 40 Democratic members of Congress have asked Mr. Bush to talk to her. On Wednesday, a coalition of anti-war groups in Washington also called on the president to speak with Sheehan, who they say has helped to unify the peace movement.

"Cindy Sheehan has become the Rosa Parks of the anti-war movement," said Rev. Lennox Yearwood, leader of the Hip Hop Caucus, an activist group. "She's tired, fed up and she's not going to take it anymore, and so now we stand with her."

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