Cindy Sheehan became an outspoken critic of the Iraq war after her son
Casey was killed in action. This summer, the Gold Star mom held a 26-day vigil outside President Bush's Crawford ranch.
Sheehan on Tuesday met with Republican Sen. John McCain. She has organized a campaign entitled "Meet with the Moms," pursuing individual meetings with members of Congress to discuss the war.
Later Tuesday, she sat down with MSNBC's Chris Matthews to play 'Hardball.'
To read an excerpt of their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HARDBALL HOST: You don't think that war is justified either?
CINDY SHEEHAN, MOTHER OF KILLED U.S. SOLDIER: I don't think the Afghan people did anything to America. You know, they weren't responsible for flying the planes into the buildings. It was al Qaeda and we should have gone after al Qaeda and not the people of Afghanistan.
MATTHEWS: Where should we have pursued them?
SHEEHAN: In Afghanistan, but not against the people of Afghanistan. A lot of innocent Afghani people were killed.
MATTHEWS: How would we have dealt with the problem that the government of Afghanistan was in bed — it was the Taliban government and they were supporting al Qaeda? How could we have gotten to al Qaeda if the government was standing in our way?
SHEEHAN: Well, the government was, but not the people.
And that's what happened in Iraq. Innocent Iraqis are being killed every day. I think that the 9/11 was a crime, not an act of war. I'm not a policy person, but I just don't want any
innocent people to be killed.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about your meeting with John McCain. When was it this afternoon?
SHEEHAN: It was at 4:00 this afternoon, just right before I came over here.
MATTHEWS: How long was it?
SHEEHAN: It was about 20 minutes.
MATTHEWS: Alone with him?
SHEEHAN: I was with, yes, him and his staff. And my sister and a constituent went with us.
MATTHEWS: Did you allow cameras in the room? Did he?
SHEEHAN: He — no.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you, what did he say to you?
SHEEHAN: Well, I have a campaign going. It's called Meet with the Moms. We have a few questions we're asking each senator and each Congress person.
He was ready with the letter. He was ready with the answers. What's the noble cause? And he said just, you know, for freedom and democracy. And then, how many more of our nation's children are you willing to risk, their lives are you willing to sacrifice, because it is a war based on lies?
MATTHEWS: Good question. What did he say?
SHEEHAN: He said that's a hard question, because he hopes and prays every day that our children won't be killed. But they are being killed every day. We have had 40 killed in September so far.
Then another question is, what are you doing to bring our troops home from the nightmare of Iraq? He says that we're trying to train troops, which is really hard when they get blown to
pieces just standing in line for the applications, you know?
SHEEHAN: I believe that the only people who support this war right now are -- or this occupation -- are the ones who are ill-informed or ones who have some kind of vested interest in keeping the occupation going.
MATTHEWS: What do you think is John McCain's vested interest?
SHEEHAN: I don't even know. I don't even know.
MATTHEWS: Well, you said only people supporting the war have vested interests.
SHEEHAN: Well, a vested interest in maybe if he is going to run for president, he thinks he has to look strong and looks like he's capable.
MATTHEWS: Are you a Democrat or Republican? I have never gotten straight on.
SHEEHAN: I have been a registered Democrat.
MATTHEWS: Why do you think Hillary Clinton doesn't oppose the war with any kind of passion?
SHEEHAN: You know, I have gone after Democrats as strongly as Republicans.
MATTHEWS: I will go down the list, OK?
You say the only people that support the war have a vested interest in supporting the war.
MATTHEWS: Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, John Kerry, John Edwards, Joe Biden, Evan Bayh, everybody who might conceivably run for the Democratic nomination in 2008 is backing this war.
Why are they doing it?
SHEEHAN: Because I believe that they feel like, if they don't, the nation will perceive them as weak.
But I believe that 62 percent of Americans know this war is wrong and they want our troops to start coming home. It went over the halfway mark of people wanting them to come home now. And I believe that that is the mood of America. I believe a strong leader will lead the way America wants them to. A strong, good Democratic candidate has to stand up
and say, it's a war based on lies. We should never have gone there. We shouldn't be there. And let's lead our troops out.
MATTHEWS: Do you think Bill Clinton would, given the same circumstances of 9/11 and the situation with Iraq, refusing to really open its door to full inspections, do you believe that he would have gone to war in Iraq, Bill Clinton?
SHEEHAN: I believe Iraq was allowing the inspectors in.
MATTHEWS: Do you think Bill Clinton would have gone to war with Iraq?
SHEEHAN: I can answer that. I don't know.
MATTHEWS: Do you think Hillary Clinton would have done it?
SHEEHAN: From what she is saying, maybe. You know, saying that we need more troops...
MATTHEWS: So, if you ran for office, how could you run on a Democratic ticket, a Democratic party label, when the leaders have failed to support your point of view?
SHEEHAN: I think that that's why I'm here, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Well, are you going to run for office on the Democratic line anywhere?
SHEEHAN: No, no, I'm not going to, because I think I can do more good, like you said, holding their feet to the fire.
MATTHEWS: Do you believe that you have succeeded in any way in making the war less supported by the American people?
SHEEHAN: Yes. I believe our Camp Casey movement really called attention to it. And I think that people were there.
MATTHEWS: OK, last question.
Do you believe that John McCain is any less hawkish now because he met with you today?
Watch 'Hardball' each night at 5 and 7 p.m. ET on MSNBC.
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