War Mom vs. Peace Mom

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Thursday, August 25, 2005; 12:51 PM

Stung by the ability of one grieving mother to inspire a growing antiwar movement, the White House has found a mom to call its own.

An obviously delighted President Bush introduced her to a boisterous invitation-only audience mostly made up of military families in Idaho yesterday -- then sent her out to talk to the press.

"There are few things in life more difficult than seeing a loved one go off to war," Bush said in his speech yesterday. "And here in Idaho, a mom named Tammy Pruett -- (applause) -- I think she's here -- (laughter) -- knows that feeling six times over. (Applause.) Tammy has four sons serving in Iraq right now with the Idaho National Guard -- Eric, Evan, Greg and Jeff. Last year, her husband Leon and another son, Eren, returned from Iraq, where they helped train Iraqi firefighters in Mosul.

"Tammy says this -- and I want you to hear this -- 'I know that if something happens to one of the boys, they would leave this world doing what they believe, what they think is right for our country. And I guess you couldn't ask for a better way of life than giving it for something that you believe in.' America lives in freedom because of families like the Pruetts. (Applause.)"

Peter Wallsten writes in the Los Angeles Times: "By invoking Tammy Pruett of Pocatello, Idaho, Bush's speech to Idaho National Guard members and Air Force personnel marked the latest effort by the White House to respond to growing antiwar protests being led largely by relatives of fallen troops. . . .

"Pruett, a 46-year-old administrative assistant, was in the audience with her husband, Leon, and received a kiss on the cheek from Bush after the speech. The couple, who were featured this year on CNN, said they received a call about a week ago from the White House requesting their presence at Wednesday's event."

Here's the original CNN story about the Pruetts, which dates back to June. Here's a White House photo showing Pruett acknowledging the applause of the crowd yesterday; note Bush's dramatic backdrop. Here's another White House photo showing Bush hugging Pruett after his speech.

As Dana Bash explained on CNN: "Knowing full well the antiwar movement is gaining attention with the leadership of one military mother, the president introduced the country to another. . . .

"Tammy's husband and one son are just back from Iraq. Four other sons are still serving. The White House invited the Pruetts and choreographed this moment with a family CNN first profiled more than a year ago. The president's goal: show support among military families, appeal to patriotism. . . .

"Setting aside past concerns about privacy or looking too political, the White House led reporters to Tammy Pruett."

Both Tammy and her husband, Capt. Leon Pruett, were on CNN with Paula Zahn yesterday:

"ZAHN: There are so many things that must keep you awake at night. What is your chief concern as your son[s'] service continues over there?

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