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War Foes Intensify Texas Vigil

By Helen Kennedy

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: "Why do you make time for donors and not for me?"

"I'm glad that we were there because he rarely gets to see the faces of people who don't agree with him 100%," Sheehan said.

The President's black Chevrolet SUV has tinted windows, so it was not clear if he looked at her, or the growing ranks of demonstrators, or the hundreds of plain white crosses, painted with the names of the dead, they have planted.

But it's a sight that may become familiar to the President: demonstrators energized by the unexpected success of Sheehan's protest now plan to follow him back to Washington at the end of the month.

Sheehan began her dramatic vigil last Saturday. She says she wants to meet Bush face to face so she can tell him to bring home the troops from Iraq and ask him what the death of her 24-year-old son Casey accomplished.

Various factors - including the shocking deaths of 14 Marines, a press corps bored in Crawford while Bush takes a five-week vacation and the simple symbolism of a grieving mother challenging the President - have turned Sheehan into a phenomenon.

"This is the moment. This may be the time when we finally get the attention of the American people," said Linda Waste of Georgia, who stood with Sheehan and about 50 others yesterday as Bush went by.

Waste has three sons, a grandson and a granddaughter either in Iraq or just back. Last week she joined Military Families Speak Out, a group that wants the troops brought home.

Other parents who have lost children are converging on Crawford to join Sheehan today, and supporters of the war in Iraq are staging a counterdemonstration.

"I hope the mainstream media will give as much attention to those of us who think we should stay the course as those who want to create another Vietnam," said Dallas talk show host Darrell Ankarlo.

Bush said Thursday that he feels for mourning parents. "I've thought about their cry and their sincere desire to reduce the loss of life by pulling our troops out. I just strongly disagree," he said.