Sheehan launches Pelosi challenge

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ul 10, 5:28 PM EDT

By PAUL J. WEBER
Associated Press Writer

AP Photo/Duane A. Laverty

CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) — Cindy Sheehan bid farewell to her former “peace camp” near President Bush’s ranch and began a nearly two-week trek Tuesday toward Washington, D.C., with her sights set on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Sheehan, a Californian, officially announced that she intends to run as an independent against Pelosi in 2008 if the San Francisco congresswoman doesn’t move to impeach Bush by July 23, the day she expects to reach Washington.

“I know what Californians care about,” Sheehan said. “They don’t care about the ruling power elite.”

Sheehan first told The Associated Press on Sunday about her plans to challenge the top-ranking Democrat. She made it official Tuesday at Camp Casey, named after her 24-year-old son, whose death in Iraq first led Sheehan to set up camp in Crawford in 2005 to demand a meeting with Bush, who was on vacation at the time.

Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly said Tuesday that Pelosi’s “focus is on ending the war in Iraq.”

“She believes that the best way to support our troops in Iraq is to bring them home safely and soon,” Daly wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press. “Democrats will continue to hold the Bush Administration accountable by having votes in July to change course in Iraq; to responsibly redeploy our troops; and to refocus our effort on protecting Americans from terrorism.”

But Sheehan said that’s not enough.

“You can’t bring the troops home if you give George Bush $100 billion to wage this war,” she said Tuesday. “You’re not supporting them. You’re keeping them in harm’s way.”

Sheehan says Bush should be impeached because she believes he misled the public about the reasons for going to war, violated the Geneva Convention with the torture of detainees and crossed the line by commuting the prison sentence of former vice presidential aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

After her announcement, Sheehan and about 20 anti-war protesters began their 13-day trip with a symbolic march to the edge of Crawford, where a billboard of Bush and first lady Laura Bush welcomes visitors.

Sheehan, who turned 50 on Tuesday, stunned fellow anti-war activists in May by announcing that she would sell her 5-acre Crawford protest site. She said then that she felt her efforts had been in vain and that she had endured hatred and smear tactics from the left as well as from the right.

© 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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