Antiwar activists disrupt Kohl campaign rally
Wisconsin State Journal

Antiwar activists briefly took over the lectern at a campaign rally for U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl in Madison on Wednesday, demanding he sign a pledge to begin bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq and vote to cut off money for the war.The Milwaukee Democrat stood by patiently as about a half dozen local members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance rushed the microphone in the Orpheum Theatre lobby just as Kohl was to begin speaking.

Shouting across the room, the speakers pressed their demands that Kohl sign on to a bill by fellow U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., calling on President Bush to set a timetable for withdrawing troops and vote against $72 billion in supplemental money for the war effort.

Flustered campaign staffers sought to intervene, although protesters, including one mother of a soldier, went on largely unimpeded until the audience began chanting, "We want Herb."

There was no pushing or shoving, and supporters eventually crowded the protesters away from the microphone. Kohl acknowledged the "fine group of people who have made their position known," but said he wouldn't sign the pledge.

"I have said I believe the president has misused his authority and that is why we are where we are today," Kohl said, adding that he felt the U.S. needs to do "much more" to speed up the transfer of governance and security to Iraqis.

Yet Kohl, like most lawmakers, has consistently opposed an immediate withdrawal.

"He really is a bit wishy- washy and not willing to come out strongly against the war," activst Joy First said afterward.

Wednesday's event was billed as a "pre-kickoff" of Kohl's campaign for a fourth six-year term and featured a DVD highlighting his career.

The 11-minute film uses testimonials from state residents who tell how Kohl has helped them deal with a variety of issues, including advocating for small farms, lower prescription drug costs and after-school programs.

The campaign plans to distribute as many as 100,000 copies of the DVD. Kohl, a multimillionaire, is expected to rely mostly on his own money to pay for his campaign, which he said insulates him from the influence of special interests.

Kohl, who faces several unknowns and perennial candidates but no major opposition, is expected to formally announce his re-election bid in late spring.

Rick Wiley, executive director of the state Republican Party, said the GOP expects to have a challenger to Kohl in the race by the end of March.