IAN JAMESAssociated Press
CARACAS, Venezuela - American peace activist Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq, said Saturday she is strongly considering running for office against U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein because the California lawmaker will not support calls to immediately bring the troops home.
Sheehan, who was visiting Venezuela for the World Social Forum along with activists from around the world, said she has been thinking of challenging Feinstein for her seat for some time.
"I think this is so urgent and necessary that this is what I have to do," Sheehan told The Associated Press in an interview, adding she would make a final decision on whether to run after talking it over with her three adult children in California in the coming days.
The Democratic primary will be held in June, and candidates must submit their statements by Feb. 14.
Sheehan, 48, who lives in Berkeley, Calif., accused Feinstein of being out-of-touch with Californians on Iraq.
"She voted for the war. She continues to vote for the funding. She won't call for an immediate withdrawal of the troops," said Sheehan, who gained international attention when she set up a protest camp near U.S. President George W. Bush's Texas ranch last year.
"I think our senator needs to be held accountable for her support of George Bush and his war policies," she added.
Feinstein's campaign manager, Kam Kuwata, denied that.
"She doesn't support George Bush and his war policies," Kuwata said by phone from California. "She has stated publicly on numerous occasions that she felt she was misled by the administration at the time of the vote."
But with troops committed, Feinstein believes immediate withdrawal is not a responsible option, Kuwata said. "Sen. Feinstein's position is, 'Let's work toward quickly turning over the defense of Iraq to Iraqis so that we can bring the troops home as soon as possible.'"
Kuwata said Feinstein and Sheehan appear to have a fundamental disagreement over whether troops should be pulled out right now. "That's why they have elections, and if she decides to file (paperwork to run), so be it," he said.
Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed in Iraq in 2004, said running in the Democratic primary would help make a broader point.
"If I decided to run, I would have no illusions of winning, but it would bring attention to all the peace candidates in the country," she said. "And I know I would be able to at least have some influence on policy."
Sheehan earlier had criticized the veteran senator for not immediately backing a filibuster of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito.
Feinstein announced on Friday that would in fact support that filibuster, the same day Sheehan issued a statement saying she would run against the senator if she didn't take a harder line.
Democrats fear Alito would shift the court rightward on issues including abortion, affirmative action and the death penalty.
In a speech to more than 100 activists on Friday, Sheehan said Bush "should be tried for war crimes" and asked: "How many more American troops are going to be killed while we sit here waiting for spineless public officials to do something?"
Sheehan said she would head to Washington Sunday for protests against Bush's State of the Union address on Monday, and then return to California to discuss her idea of running against Feinstein with her son and two daughters.
"We're going to have a little family meeting about it," she said. "If any of them are diametrically opposed to it, I can't do it."
But, she added, her children have been fully supportive of her activism up until now, "so I can't see - if they think it's going to help peace - that they would be opposed to me doing it."