CRAWFORD, Texas – War protesters camping out near President Bush's (search) ranch prepared Monday for a three-week bus tour to spread their anti-war message to people and lawmakers in 25 states.
Three buses were to depart Wednesday from the makeshift camp started by Cindy Sheehan (search) along the main road leading to Bush's ranch, protesters said. Sheehan arrived Aug. 6, soon after his Texas vacation began, and vowed to stay until month's end unless he talked to her about the war that claimed her 24-year-old son Casey's life.
Since then, several thousand people have visited "Camp Casey" for a few hours, days or weeks.
"We had no idea the ditch in Crawford had such phenomenal acoustics," said Nancy Lessin, co-founder of Military Families Speak Out (search), one of four organizations sponsoring the Bring Them Home Now Tour.
"There's a momentum building across the country ... and we intend for every member of Congress to hear our messages from Camp Casey loud and clear," she said.
The tour will end with the three buses meeting in Washington, D.C., for a Sept. 24 anti-war march organized by United for Peace and Justice and the ANSWER Coalition.
FreeRepublic.com and other conservative groups are planning counter events in the nation's capital that weekend, said Kristinn Taylor, co-leader of the group's Washington, D.C., chapter. FreeRepublic.com was part of a large pro-Bush rally in Crawford on Saturday.
Taylor said many Bush supporters want to make sure their voice also is heard, "especially military families who have been serving silently with their relatives. They realize it's important for them to speak out now."
Pro-Bush rallies also are expected in cities along the bus tour, which will follow northern, central and southern routes. In some cases, protesters may walk into the offices of a Congress member, Lessin said.
Sheehan will be on the southern route, with its first stop in Austin for a Wednesday afternoon rally. Its next event will be Friday in Houston, the district of U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.
Sheehan will leave the tour after that for other events, but other relatives of fallen U.S. troops and families of soldiers still serving in Iraq will be on each bus.
Bush has said he sympathizes with Sheehan, but his aides have said there are no plans to change his schedule to meet with her. His vacation is to end Friday.