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Demonstrators Protest Bush Visit To Albuquerque

By Melanie Dabovich/
Associated Press
      About 100 people, many carrying protest signs, demonstrated Monday against President Bush and U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici near a private home where the president helped raise more than $430,000 for Domenici's re-election bid.
    The protesters — many upset with the war in Iraq — lined the street about 300 feet from a private driveway leading to the ranch-style home.
    Air Force veteran George Boersig, 67, said he believes the war is about oil and money. Boersig, a member of the local Veterans for Peace group, carried a sign with a picture of Bush and the words, "Impeach Me: Clueless but Evil.''
    "The only way to stop (the war) is to cut the funding. That's what we did in Vietnam and we need to do the same thing in Iraq and Afghanistan,'' Boersig said.
    Retired middle school teacher Pat Knoebel, 68, said she disagrees with how the Iraqi war is going, and came to the protest because of her extreme dislike for Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
    "Anything Bush says, just take the opposite, and that's the truth,'' said Knoebel, who carried a sign that said, "Puppet Bush and Nuclear Pete working with Satan.''
    "Domenici just goes with Bush, not for truth and justice and not for the people,'' she said. "Then who is he working for?''
    The president had no public appearances in his brief visit to New Mexico.
    The fundraiser for Domenici brought in $434,000, about $50,000 to $60,000 more than organizers expected, said Domenici's chief of staff, Steve Bell.
    "Given the pretty steady headwind against Republicans, we're pretty happy about that,'' he said.
    The campaign still must reimburse the president's costs, and will not know that amount until mid-September, Bell said.
    Bell said the fundraiser attracted just under 200 people, "more people than we expected.''
    However, he said there also was a shadow over the event because of the death of a Rio Rancho police officer whose motorcycle crashed while he was riding in the presidential motorcade at the Albuquerque airport.
    Domenici, R-N.M., had a balance of about $1 million in his re-election account at the end of June, according to the latest federal campaign finance report. He collected about $650,000 in contributions from April through June.
    Three Democrats, all political newcomers, have lined up to run against the senator.
    Northern New Mexico businessman Don Wiviott had $405,000 in his campaign account at the end of June and had loaned his campaign $400,000. Jim Hannan, finance director of the Santa Fe Community Housing Trust, and Leland Lehrman, who publishes an alternative newspaper in Santa Fe, have not filed campaign finance reports.
    Protester Joanne Calkins, 67, whose late husband served in Vietnam, said there's a misconception that antiwar protesters don't care about American troops in Iraq.
    "I care about the people that are there, and I think the best way to take care of them is to bring them home,'' said Calkins, a retired teacher who carried a sign that said: "Iraq War — Wrong Way.''
    Calkins, who took her 10-month old grandson, Raji Fink, and her dog, Qi, to the protest, said she'd like the U.S. government to consider diplomacy before war.
    "War seems to be our only weapon,'' she said.
    Bush, in brief remarks in Albuquerque before the fundraiser in the tiny adjacent community of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, praised what he called a promising sign of political progress by Iraqi leaders who said they found common ground on some issues standing in the way of reconciliation.
    The Iraqi leaders released no details of their meeting Sunday, and committees must hash out final versions of legislation to be presented to the Iraqi parliament. Iraqi officials have announced similar deals in the past, only to have them fall apart.

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