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Protest of War Smaller than Expected

Protest of war smaller than expected
By James Hohmann | Dallas Morning News

About 250 war protesters gathered outside the Texas Republican straw poll Saturday, calling for an immediate troop withdrawal and the impeachment of President Bush.

Cindy Sheehan was among the war protesters outside the Texas Republican straw poll in Fort Worth. Organizers who promised thousands would attend the protest said the lower- than-expected turnout inside the straw poll had an effect.

Among the speakers was Cindy Sheehan, who became the face of the anti-war movement after setting up camp outside the president's ranch in Crawford, Texas. Ms. Sheehan, the mother of a killed-in-action soldier, plans to challenge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi next year because the California Democrat has not sought to impeach the president.

"Not only should they be impeached, they should be thrown in prison," Ms. Sheehan said. "Most of the Democrats belong in prison right next to George Bush and Dick Cheney."

Organizers had promised thousands of anti-war activists would arrive, but that was not the case as morning showers gave way to a hot and muggy afternoon. Protest spokeswoman Alyssa Burgin said the fact that the straw poll itself did not draw as many delegates and candidates as Republican officials had announced likely kept crowds away.

"Wherever there are federal officials, we're trying to get them to focus on the war in Iraq," said Charlie Jackson of Austin, who founded Texans for Peace. "The goal is to get a firm commitment from the elected officials here today to end the war in Iraq this year."

About 100 crosses were set up on a grassy rise near the stage to commemorate those who have died in the war. Men wore prison-garb costumes and put on oversized bobbleheads with the faces of President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"If we keep doing what the administration is doing, we'll all be drafted into the war," said Jon Snow, 27, a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin.

Some Republican delegates quietly milled through the peaceful crowd on their way to and from lunch during an almost 2 ½-hour program.

"They have the right to believe what they want to believe," said delegate Chris O'Reilly, 45, of Plano. "I personally don't think they have all the facts right. It seems that they protest sometimes for the sake of protesting."

About 20 supporters of the war held signs and stood together among the anti-war demonstrators.

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