SAN MARCOS - Disillusioned but not discouraged, peace activist turned congressional candidate Cindy Sheehan last night took her fight against the Iraq war and the Washington establishment to Cal State San Marcos, where she received a standing ovation.
Sheehan, the mother of Army Spc. Casey Sheehan, who was killed in an ambush in Baghdad in 2004, spoke to a packed auditorium of 230 students, faculty and supporters. She urged them to make the country a better place.
"We need everybody working together," Sheehan said as the audience applauded, cheered and muttered approval of her remarks.
"If I can't make a difference, at least I can try. I will go to my grave trying."
Last night's two-hour event was organized by the university's Women's Studies Program, with support from 12 other programs and departments.
Many peace activists, including the San Diego chapter of Veterans for Peace, were in the audience to support her.
Two university police officers stood near the podium. Two more guarded outside the auditorium.
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Sheehan, 51, wore a gray T-shirt with a peace symbol on the front, and had a Starbucks drink she said was given to her perched on the podium. A black-and-white sign saying "For What Noble Cause?" was the backdrop.
Sheehan criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, for not taking steps to impeach President Bush, who she said misled the country into a protracted conflict with Iraq and condoned the torture of prisoners of war.
Sheehan's goal is to unseat Pelosi in November. Pelosi has represented San Francisco since 1987.
Asked whether she supports any of the presidential candidates, Sheehan, who left the Democratic Party on Memorial Day, said she does not have any hope in them.
"But I have a lot of hope in the American people," she said.
Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said that Pelosi, too, is frustrated with the ongoing war in Iraq but believes that impeachment would be divisive and distract Congress from improving the lives of working families.
© 2008 San Diego Union-Tribune