Should Bush Meet With Cindy Sheehan?

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," August 11, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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JOHN GIBSON, GUEST HOST: Continuing now with our lead story, the anti-war campaign of Cindy Sheehan (search), who has camped out in Crawford, Texas, demanding a second meeting with President Bush. Here is what he had to say about Ms. Sheehan earlier today.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Part of my duty as the president is to meet with those who have lost a loved one. And so, you know, listen, I sympathize with Mrs. Sheehan. She feels strongly about her — about her position.

And I — she has every right in the world to say what she believes. This is America. She has a right to her position.

And I thought long and hard about her position. I've heard her position from others, which is get out of Iraq now. And it would be a mistake for the security of this country.


GIBSON: Ms. Sheehan posted another message on Michael Moore's Web site today and is reportedly getting support from some other far left individuals and organizations. But is there anything wrong with that?

Joining us now from Boston, Democratic strategist Mary Anne Marsh. Mary Anne, first of all, what did you think of the president's direct response, if you will, to Cindy Sheehan?

MARY ANNE MARSH, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, the point is George Bush should meet with Cindy Sheehan. The fact is...

GIBSON: But he did.

MARSH: He isn't now. And the reason he's not is because he doesn't have any good answers for Cindy Sheehan and the questions she's asking about the war in Iraq. If he had those answers, his poll numbers wouldn't be so low, and she wouldn't be sitting outside of his house in Crawford, Texas.

GIBSON: Yes, but Mary Anne, I mean, what would you have him say? I mean, her son died in the war. It's a terrible thing. He thinks the war has to be fought. He thinks it's important for national security. At least at the time it was launched, so did a lot of other Americans. At this point, what...

MARSH: But no more.

GIBSON: Maybe. But what would you have him say, other than allow her to sort of roast him over a slow fire? What's the point exactly...

MARSH: I think...

GIBSON: ...except embarrassing the president at a bad time in Iraq and a bad time in his polling numbers?

MARSH: Well, that's the fact. Here's the problem, John. George Bush is the president of the United States. He owes everybody, not just Cindy Sheehan and the families of the 1,800 men and women who have given their lives for our country over there, but all Americans, because the majority of Americans now doubt his leadership about the war in Iraq.

He owes everyone an explanation to simple questions like why is it going so badly? How much longer are we going to be there? Are we winning? Are we losing? Those are the questions that Cindy Sheehan really wants answers to.

GIBSON: But Mary Anne...

MARSH: And so do millions of Americans. That have not been answered.

GIBSON: ...those are questions that may not have answers. I...

MARSH: Come on, John.

GIBSON: ...what I think is going on - pardon me for - it's...

MARSH: If they're...

GIBSON: No, no, there is not an answer. It's when it's going to be over. You know that.

MARSH: Oh, I...

GIBSON: There is not an answer when we're coming home. You know that. What are you going to do? Are you going to tell Zarqawi (search), wait until October and we'll be gone? That sounds like a really intelligent strategy. It may satisfy Cindy Sheehan, but please, if you're in the circles of power, you're not going to recommend that, Mary Anne.

MARSH: Oh, John, two things. First of all, George Bush artfully today said I don't think it would be right to pull out today. Yet everybody in the Bush administration from Rumsfeld on, every TV station, newspaper, everyone's reporting we're pulling out troops sometime six months from now, next spring. So is it today or six months from now? What's the difference?

GIBSON: Why do you want it said out loud? What is the point, Mary Anne?

MARSH: The bigger point here, John, is did Cindy Sheehan's son and 1,800 Americans die in vain?

GIBSON: In vain?

MARSH: This is not the war we all thought we were getting into.

GIBSON: In vain?

MARSH: This is not the war...

GIBSON: Wait a minute.

MARSH: ...we all thought we were getting into.

GIBSON: You were able to suddenly declare that's in vain?

MARSH: I think all you had to do was watch "The Factor" earlier this week. And that's why I'm disappointed that Cindy Sheehan didn't come on the show and watch Colonel Dave Hunt and Bill Cowan give one of the most devastating analysis I've seen anywhere about how the war in Iraq's going, how tough things are for our troops, how the plan isn't there and the resources aren't there. That's what the American people want the answer to.

GIBSON: All right, but Mary Anne Marsh, this thing going on in Crawford right now — I mean, I've got a list of eight of these groups including Code Pink (search),, Michael Moore (search), who seem to have swallowed Cindy Sheehan whole.

Let me just ask you. Will you admit that what's going on there is a bunch of groups that have been anti-war and anti-Bush from the get go, have taken over Cindy Sheehan?

MARSH: I think Cindy Sheehan was a woman who was looking for some help when she lost her son. These were probably the first, and at that time only people who were willing to help.

Here's the difference between Cindy Sheehan and those folks now. They're fighting the last campaign. That campaign's over. It's not going to change the outcome. Cindy Sheehan's fighting for the truth for herself, for her son, and millions of Americans who want to know the truth about Iraq. There's the difference.

She doesn't need them anymore. And I hope they're giving her better advice than perhaps they are at this moment about this network and other things.

The fact is she needs the truth. She deserves the truth. And President Bush owes the truth to every American.

GIBSON: OK, but what - let me just ask you. What is it — let's separate out Code Pink and all the other groups that I've got listed here and just say Cindy Sheehan goes into a room with George Bush right now. And she asks all these questions, the questions that are open-ended, and in my mind, don't have answers right now.

What — and he sits there and takes it. He takes her abuse. She's angry and he takes it. Then what?

MARSH: Then it's over. I mean, really. I mean, think about it, John. If this were a Republican voter in New Hampshire, he would sit down with her, even though we all know most of his events, even during his first campaign, were by invitation only. I think most people feel at this point she deserves that meeting.

And if then she keeps complaining, then to a degree, people may see her as someone who can't be answered and can't get the situation resolved.

But Cindy Sheehan and millions of Americans deserve those answers from George Bush.

GIBSON: Mary Anne Marsh, thank you very much.

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