Crawford, Texas Cindy Sheehan, who became the United States' most visible protester of the Iraq war when she camped out near President Bush's ranch in the summer of 2005, returned here Friday to, she said, get "in his face" again.
Bush is spending the weekend at the ranch with first lady Laura Bush and his parents, former president George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush. In today's radio address, the current president plans to talk about the sacrifices made by U.S. troops away from their families during holidays.
Sheehan, whose 24-year-old son, Casey, died in 2004 in combat in Iraq, said she viewed herself as speaking for people whose holidays are shadowed by having had relatives killed in Iraq.
"We will never have a good Easter," she said as she addressed two dozen protesters outside the ranch. "Every day is bad, but the holidays are especially bad."
Sheehan, 50, and the other protesters pledged that, starting Friday night, they would stand near the ranch's security checkpoint and read the names of the more than 3,000 U.S. soldiers who have died fighting in Iraq.
As Sheehan pressed her case, White House aides in Crawford continued to reject suggestions by leading Democrats that Bush talk with Congress in a standoff over new funding for the war.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is among those who have called on Bush to negotiate, noting that unlike the president's first six years in office, he now confronts a Congress in which Democrats control both houses.
"He should sit down and talk to us, we're reasonable," Reid said Wednesday in an interview with a Fox News affiliate in Las Vegas. "We've compromised on issues before. He hasn't, because he's had Congress give him everything he wants. We're not going to do that anymore."
White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe countered Friday that Democrats need to dicker among themselves to settle differences between the House's war-funding bill and the Senate's version on details for setting a deadline for withdrawing U.S. troops in Iraq.
"The Democrats need to come together themselves and negotiate before they can really negotiate with anyone else," Johndroe said.
Bush has said that if he is sent a bill that includes deadline provisions, he will veto it. And, in what is sure to be a message the White House increasingly will focus on, Johndroe noted that two months have gone by since Bush submitted his request for about $100 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In a comment directed at Congress, Johndroe said, "Fund the troops."