Bush spotlights mom of troops who backs Iraq war


(Gold9472: You wonder why Karl Rove hasn't been fired... these types of responses are why.)

2 hours, 5 minutes ago

NAMPA, United States (AFP) - US President George W. Bush contrasted a military mother whose five sons and husband have served in Iraq with anti-war protestors he said risked emboldening terrorists.

"There are few things in life more difficult than seeing a loved one go off to war. Here, in Idaho, a mom named Tammy Pruett ... knows that feeling six times over," the president said in a speech to citizen soldiers here.

His salute to Pruett was a clear response to anti-war protestor Cindy Sheehan, who has besieged the president at his Texas ranch and demanded a meeting with him to discuss the death of her soldier son in Iraq.

Bush, who was to meet with relatives of troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan after his speech, has increasingly criticized Sheehan as unrepresentative of most military families he meets.

Bush said Pruett has four sons serving in the Idaho National Guard in Iraq, and that her husband and another son came home from Iraq in 2004 after helping to train firefighters in the city of Mosul.

The president quoted her as saying "'I know that if something happens to one of the boys, they would leave this world doing what they believe, what they believe is right for our country. And I guess you couldn't ask for a better way of life than giving it for something you believe in.'"

"America lives in freedom because of families like the Pruetts," said Bush, who faced slumping approval ratings and polls showing that a majority of the US public thinks the war in Iraq was a mistake.

Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy said in reaction to Bush's speech, that more than "photo-ops and spin" are needed to win the Iraq war.

"(Bush) needs to realize what most Americans now understand that staying the course is not an option."

Bush, who was to return to his ranch later in the day, also repeated his attack on anti-war protestors as dangerous isolationists, and said they advocated policies that would embolden terrorists.

"An immediate withdrawal of our troops in Iraq or the broader Middle East, as some have called for, would only embolden the terrorists and create a staging ground to launch more attacks against America and free nations," he told an audience mostly made up of Idaho National Guard members.

"So long as I'm the president, we will stay, we will fight, and we will win the war on terror," said Bush, who announced that global campaign after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

It was not clear how many protestors, if any, want the United States to retreat from the Middle East entirely.

Bush also urged Americans to be patient as Iraqis vie to draft a new constitution.

"The establishment of a democratic constitution will be a landmark event in the history of Iraq and the history of the history of the Middle East. It will bring us closer to a day when Iraq is a nation that can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself," Bush said.

Bush's speech came shortly after Sheehan said she was resuming her vigil outside the president's ranch near tiny Crawford, Texas. She has met once before with Bush shortly after her son Casey was killed in Iraq in 2004.

"I'm coming back to Crawford for my son. As long as the president, who sent him to die in a senseless war, is in Crawford, that is where I belong," Sheehan wrote in an essay published on the website The Huffington Post.

On Thursday, Sheehan announced that she was leaving "Camp Casey," the protest site she named for her son, and returning to California because her mother had suffered a stroke.

She has said she plans to stay outside the president's vacation home until he either meets with her or returns to Washington.

More than 1,800 US soldiers have been killed in Iraq and thousands more wounded in a conflict with a price tag in the tens of billions of dollars.

As fresh violence raged across Iraq Wednesday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ordered 1,500 more US troops to the country to beef up security for the planned elections.