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John Daley ReportingThe nation's most prominent anti-war activist is coming to Utah, thanks to an invitation from the city's mayor. Cindy Sheehan told KSL Radio about the invitation this morning.
Cindy Sheehan was a guest for ten minutes or so this morning on KSL Radio's Doug Wright show. Sheehan says she had hoped to come to Utah to protest Bush Administration's policies here in Salt Lake last summer, but she was unable to attend. She says she's coming now after being asked by Mayor Rocky Anderson, and was asked what her message is.
Cindy Sheehan, Gold Star Mothers for Peace: "I was invited to Salt Lake City by the mayor to participate in the rally and the march when George Bush is there August 30th."
Question: If you had the opportunity, say right her in Salt Lake City to speak face to face with the president what would you say to him?
Cindy Sheehan: "I just have a very simple question -- Why? Why since everything has been proven to be lies, the justification for the war, the justification for keeping our troops there, why are they still there? Why are our soldiers still dying every day."
Sheehan will give a speech during the protest at the city-county building downtown, said her spokeswoman Tiffany Burns.
Sheehan, whose 24-year-old son, Army Spc. Casey Sheehan, was killed in Iraq in 2004, spent 26 days outside Bush's Crawford, Texas, ranch last year in an effort to get him to explain why he sent the United States to war and say what steps he would take to end the conflict.
Anderson, who protested during Bush's speech to a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention here last year, said he expects at least 5,000 people to march the three blocks from the city-county building to the federal building as part of the protest.
"We expect huge numbers of people to turn out for this. I think that it's a personal and moral obligation for everybody, especially in any leadership capacity, to stand up and speak out when we see things going so horribly wrong in our country," Anderson said.
The federal building is two blocks east of the American Legion convention site.
Anderson had been invited to attend the American Legion convention but not to address it as he did during the 2005 VFW convention.
"I think it's very odd that anybody who's served in our military and who values our freedoms would not want the host city mayor to provide welcoming remarks implicitly because that mayor disagrees with our nation's political leadership," he said.
Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon, like Anderson a Democrat, will open the national convention at the Salt Palace on Aug. 29.
During Bush's visit, Anderson spoke to about 2,000 anti-war protesters, saying he supported the troops but had to rally against the "deceit" that put the United States at war in Iraq.
Last month, some Legion officials told The Associated Press that some members were skipping this year's convention because of Anderson's criticism of Bush and the Iraq war.
Wednesday, Anderson said he's been told by Legion officials that high gas prices were playing a bigger role in keeping people away.
Anderson and the Utah Democratic Party have had tense relations for years and the party clearly wants to keep its distance now. Their Communications Director, Jeff Bell, says they don't have any connection with the protest or the Mayor's actions, saying, "He certainly doesn't coordinate with us. He does what he does."
And on KSL's Internet message board there are over 300 comments, most opposed to Sheehan's visit. Mandy C. writes: "GO AWAY Cindy! You are a raging, tree-hugging hippie with nothing else better to do..."
Kurt G. disagrees, saying: "Anyone who values the future of our nation should stand up and make their voice heard."
While Ich D. comments on Anderson and Sheehan, "Put 'em both on a rail and give'm a ride outa town."
No doubt there are strong feelings being expressed on this issue.
In another development, The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Bush is planning to stay overnight during his Utah visit and will meet with leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as is traditional, and will help raise money for Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch.
The president's schedule is not yet solid, but he currently plans to fly into Utah on Aug. 29 and stay overnight before a speaking to the convention the next day.
After speaking to the convention, he is expected to visit with the church leaders and then headline a fundraiser for Hatch, who is seeking a sixth term in the Senate on Nov. 7, the newspaper said.
Bush will be joined on the trip by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
The White House declined to confirm details of the trip.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)