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The scene at Camp Casey illustrated how Sheehan's once Quixote-like protest has ballooned into a national phenomenon — giving war opponents a champion that had been lacking since former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean stumbled in his efforts to win the White House on a largely antiwar platform.
Her arguments against the war have sparked a heated controversy, and conservative militants from California are on their way to Crawford to launch a tour called "You don't speak for me, Cindy!".
"People have said, `Enough is enough _ enough Bush bashing,'" said Gregg Garvey of Keystone Heights, Fla., whose 23-year-old son Justin died in Iraq in 2003. "This (protest) does not represent all of America."
Conservative activists and military families also were en route to Crawford from California on a tour called "You don't speak for me, Cindy!" The caravan coordinated by Move America Forward plans to hold a pro-Bush rally in town Saturday.
Bush has said he recognizes Sheehan's right to protest and understands her anguish, although she does not represent the views of many families he has met with.
Qualls, who has challenged Sheehan to a debate, grows teary and emotional when describing his shock on learning his son, a Marine, was killed in Fallujah.
"The people on this side are righteous," Qualls said of his supporters and those in town to show support for Bush and the troops. "I have to stand up for what's right."
Barry Crimmins, a writer for the liberal radio network Air America, has been covering the Sheehan vigil and said he believes her efforts are serving as a "flashpoint" for a growing, national anti-war effort.
"They've turned Bush's vacation home into Baghdad airport," Crimmins said.
Bush met once with Sheehan and other relatives of troops killed in Iraq during an appearance at Fort Lewis, Washington, last year. He has so far refused to meet with her a second time and said during his Idaho visit Tuesday that her stance on troop withdrawal from Iraq "would weaken the United States."
"She expressed her opinion; I disagree with it," Bush said. "I think immediate withdrawal from Iraq would be a mistake."
Marin said 14 children were among the dead. A police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly, said many of the bodies were unidentifiable.
The children had been ``asphyxiated,'' he said. ``It's an abominable spectacle.''
People ``jumped out the windows. They didn't care about dying,'' said 71-year-old Oumar Cisse, originally from Mali.
He said the building was in a decrepit state, infested with rats and mice. Walls were cracked and lead was in the paint that covered them, he said.
Survivors from the fire described desperate scenes as people fled the building.
"I heard children cry, families scream," Oumar Cisse told journalists after he was evacuated from the building. "Some children were yelling for their mothers and fathers.
"Lots of people wanted to jump out of the windows."
He said the building was "very dirty", and infested with rats and mice.
"We were very badly housed, we had been waiting for new homes since 1991," he said.
At least six of the dead were children. Many of the victims were asphyxiated in their sleep, firefighters and residents said.
Those nearby said the scene was nightmarish -- the screams of children could be heard, and at least one person jumped from a window, witnesses said.
CNN's Jim Bittermann in Paris said that Sarkozy looked visibly distressed.
"I heard children cry, families scream. Some children were yelling for their mothers and fathers."