CRAWFORD, Texas – Hundreds of people descended on this one-stoplight town a few miles from President Bush's ranch Wednesday night -- some to show their support and some to see a documentary criticizing his administration.
Carloads of people cruised down Main Street with many holding pro-Bush signs out their windows, passing by a building where more than 300 Bush supporters spilled out of a rally. Some yelled their disdain as cars carrying moviegoers turned down the road leading to the parking lot where filmmaker Michael Moore's (search) "Fahrenheit 9/11" was shown to a crowd of about 1,000 people.
"While we certainly do not agree with Michael Moore ... we do agree that it is important that we protect the right to be on a dissenting side of an issue," state Rep. Arlene Wohlgemuth said at the rally. She is the GOP congressional candidate for the 17th district, which includes Crawford (search).
Carol Bernhard and friends came from Austin (search) and held a huge sign proclaiming, "This is Bush Country."
She said she didn't plan to see the movie. "I'm not going to give that traitor any of my money," she said.
At the parking lot, the crowd sat in lawn chairs or on pillows on the ground to watch the film as some of the protesters stood at the entrance, chanting "No More Moore."
The crowd cheered when the film showed protesters during Bush's inauguration. There were cheers and some boos when Moore appeared in the film.
The film was shown at the Crawford Peace House, an interfaith gathering place that often serves as a catalyst for peace protests at Bush's nearby ranch.
"This was not done as a protest; it was a demonstration of free speech," said Kay Lucas, a volunteer with the Crawford Peace House.
Peace House members tried to bring the film to town when it seemed that "Fahrenheit 9/11" would not be shown in Waco, the largest city near Crawford. One Waco theater started showing it last week, nearly a month after its nationwide release.
Those who attended the outdoor showing were asked to donate $8 to the Peace House.
Moore's condemnation of Bush's actions following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks recently became the first documentary to top the $100 million mark domestically.
Moore initially said he would come to Crawford and discuss the movie after showing it. He even invited Bush, who is staying at his ranch this week, to attend.
But on Wednesday Moore decided to remain at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, saying his presence in Crawford would overshadow the film's message and detract from the convention.