KENNEBUNKPORT (AP) – Tourists, TV crews and anti-war activists congregated at a checkpoint at Walker’s Point on Saturday as President Bush played host to French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the summer home of Bush’s parents.

As cars filled with visitors craning their necks to catch a glimpse of former President George H.W. Bush’s retreat rolled by, activist Jamilla El-Shafei offered passengers a taste of “Iraqi freedom from occupation fries” from a red, oversize cardboard container.

Others among the 15 or so protesters offered fresh peaches which they dubbed “impeaches.”

The gathering, under bright blue skies with a picture postcard view of the Atlantic, was far smaller than the estimated 1,700 anti-Bush activists who turned out at the same location six weeks ago when Russian President Vladimir Putin was President Bush’s weekend guest at what had been billed by some as the Kennebunkport Summit.

El-Shafei, who organized demonstrations coinciding with Bush’s two previous visits to Maine, said she didn’t have the time or energy to pull out all the stops this weekend because she is focusing efforts on a rally and march set for the weekend of Aug. 24-25, when Bush is scheduled to be elsewhere.

“This is small. I was afraid it was going to get out of hand so I put a lid on it,” she said.

The upcoming event, which El-Shafei said is expected to draw up to 10,000 people, will feature activist Cindy Sheehan, presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich and the Indigo Girls.

Saturday’s small group of activists, some carrying anti-Bush placards, included some regulars at earlier demonstrators.

Among them was Melida Arredondo of Boston, who wore a T-shirt of her son Alex, a 20-year-old Marine killed three years ago in Iraq.

“It’s impossible to heal when you keep hearing of others going through the same thing. It re-emotionalizes you,” she said.

The demonstrators drew support from some of the tourists, including Gene Gilbert of Milwaukee, who was staying with his family at the Cape Arundel Inn across the road to celebrate his wife Inez’s 80th birthday.

Gilbert’s granddaughters, Molly, of Philadelphia, and Casey of Madison, Wis., contributed a sign, “IRAQ WAR: BUSH LEAGUE” that was added to the arsenal of anti-Bush banners.

Other tourists who stopped along the shore to take pictures of the Bush compound or scan the waters for signs of the president or his father out on a boat ride, were politically noncommittal or expressed support for Bush.

Bill Wight of Waynesville, N.C., said he backs the president on the war and thought it was unfortunate that there was a protest during Sarkozy’s visit.

“France hasn’t been so close to us on this thing, so this doesn’t help matters,” he said.

AP-ES-08-11-07 1431EDT


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