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The Associated Press

Protest To Meet Bush At Legion meeting

Martin Griffith

Scores of anti-war demonstrators are expected to greet President Bush when he arrives Tuesday in Reno to address the American Legion's national convention.

Local activists, including some veterans and military families, plan to wave "Support the Troops, End the War" placards outside the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, said Greg Richardson, Nevada field director for a sponsoring group Americans Against Escalation in Iraq.0827 03

"We'll be polite and respectful and do what we're asked to do by the Secret Service," Richardson said. "Our main message is 'It's time to change the direction in Iraq.' We're in the middle of a religious civil war in Iraq, and it's time for us to redeploy our troops."

Bush is scheduled to address the Legion at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the convention center. He addressed the American Legion last year in Salt Lake City.

In his remarks to a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention last week in Kansas City, Mo., Bush said that a hasty retreat from Iraq would lead to terrible violence.

In his Reno speech, the president plans to discuss the war in Iraq in the context of its implications for the broader Middle East.

The Legion supports the U.S. strategy in Iraq and plans to give Bush a warm welcome, said Paul Morin, national commander of the 2.7-million-member organization.

The Legion opposes calls in Congress for a troop withdrawal timetable in Iraq, he added.

"We're in support of the president and what needs to be done," Morin said. "When in the heck do you tell the enemy your date of withdrawal?"

About 10,000 people are expected to attend the Legion's 89th convention Tuesday through Thursday.

Unlike the VFW convention, the Legion gathering will feature no presidential candidates.

In advance of the convention, anti-war protesters held a weekend vigil outside the Reno office of U.S. Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., who has opposed setting a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

Heller and U.S. Rep. Jon Porter, R-Nev., were among 40 congressmen in 15 states targeted for protests this summer by Americans Against Escalation in Iraq.

"Over 70 percent of Americans oppose the war, and these congressmen are defying the will of the people," Richardson said.

© 2007 The Associated Press

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