PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- Former Maine congressman Tom Andrews has
been rubbing elbows with celebrity musicians and appearing on
political affairs TV programs. He has orchestrated a massive
call-in campaign that tied up phone lines in U.S. Senate offices
for most of a day.
It's all part of the job for Andrews, who has assumed a
prominent role in the national anti-war movement. As director of
Win Without War, a coalition of nearly three dozen diverse
organizations, Andrews thinks up and organizes ways to get the
anti-war message out to America.
Last month, Andrews helped put together Musicians United to Win
Without War, an alliance of more than 40 musical artists. After a
news conference to announce the alliance, he talked strategy with
rock musicians David Byrne and Lou Reed, country music star
Roseanne Cash and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons.
Andrews also proposed having actor Martin Sheen, the president
on NBC's ''The West Wing,'' appear in an anti-war TV ad, then wrote
the script and helped produce it. He has faced off with hawkish
conservatives on NBC's ''Meet the Press'' and CNN's ''Crossfire.''
And he directed a national ''virtual march'' on the nation's
capital that resulted in more than 1 million phone calls to the
White House and U.S. Senate offices to protest an invasion and
occupation of Iraq.
Andrews, an unabashed liberal, said the Bush administration has
made itself clear on Iraq, and that it's time for an opposing view
to take the bully pulpit.
''We're talking about an invasion and full-scale occupation of
the most volatile part of the world where anti-American sentiment
is already at a fevered pitch,'' Andrews said.
Andrews, 49, is no stranger to controversy or to issues of
Maine's 1st District congressman from 1991-95, Andrews set off a
ruckus when he supported closing Loring Air Force Base in northern
Maine during a round of military base closures in the early 1990s.
While a freshman in Congress, he gave a fiery speech on the House
floor against the 1991 war with Iraq.
He's also no stranger to liberal causes. For most of his life,
he has crusaded on human rights, global economic policy, nuclear
power, poverty, free speech, sweatshop labor and disability rights.
Andrews, who lost a leg to cancer as a teenager and now uses a
prosthetic device, was in Augusta last month to support a
legislative bill to bolster insurance coverage for artificial
When he's not in Washington or on the road, he spends time in
Maine; he and his wife have a home in South Portland.
David Cortright, a Win Without War committee member and director
of Fourth Freedom Forum anti-war organization in Indiana, said
Andrews was the first choice when it was decided Win Without War
needed a full-time director. The coalition, formed in December,
counts Greenpeace, the NAACP, the National Organization for Women,
the National Council of Churches and the Sierra Club among its
Cortright said Andrews was chosen because of his legislative
experience, his media savvy and his organizing skills.
''He seems to have earned his way building coalitions, listening
to people, and articulating messages that are creative without
being extreme, without sounding radical and putting people off,''
Craig Brown, who was Andrews' congressional chief of staff for
four years, said Andrews' position in the anti-war movement is
consistent with the kind of work he's done his whole life. Brown
heads the Portland-based commondreams.org, a nonprofit Web site
with news and opinion for ''the progressive community.''
''He's unique in that he understands Washington mechanics, but
his roots are grassroots organizing,'' he said. ''He understands
coalitions and strategizing as an organizer. There aren't many
current or former members of Congress that have those skills.''
For now, Andrews finds himself ''in the lion's den of debate''
On CNN's ''Crossfire,'' he went up against former U.S. Rep. Bob
Dornan, a conservative from California once known as ''B-1 Bob.''
On ''Meet the Press,'' he was paired against Sen. Lindsey Graham,
Andrews is sure more public appearances are to come. ''Any time
and every time we have the opportunity to present our point of
view, we will take it.''
On the Net:
Win Without War: www.winwithoutwarus.org
Common Dreams News Center: www.commondreams.org
Copyright 2003 The Associated Press