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  • GOP convention canceled

    ST. PAUL, MINN. -- Haunted by the federal government's failed response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Republican Party today canceled its political program for Monday's portion of its national convention as Hurricane Gustav threatened parts of Louisiana.

    "This is a time when we have to do away with our party politics and we have to act as Americans," soon-to-be official presidential candidate John McCain said from St. Louis in a video conference with hundreds of reporters here. "We are going to suspend most of our activities tomorrow except for those absolutely necessary."

    Instead of the prime-time opening night that was to include speeches by President Bush and Vice President Cheney, as well as rhetoric to fire up voters for McCain, the party will spend less than three hours carrying out legal and parliamentary formalities during the afternoon and put the rest of the four-day convention on hold, officials said.

    GOP leaders said they are offering to fly home delegates from Texas and the other Gulf states and that a dozen delegates from Louisiana had accepted.

    Political fundraising activities at the convention will be morphed into charity events for hurricane relief, they said.

    After the devastation of New Orleans in 2005, President Bush and other officials admitted serious flaws with relief and repair efforts.

    "I have every expectation we will not see the mistakes of Katrina repeated," McCain said after telephone briefings with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has canceled his trip to the convention, and with governors of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.

    Officials said they were unsure when the convention could resume its normal presentation to the nation or whether it was certain McCain would appear here to accept the party's nomination.

    "I hope and pray we will be able to resume some of our operations as soon as possible, but frankly, some of that is in the hands of God," McCain said.

    Set back to back with last week's Democratic convention and nomination of Barack Obama, the GOP convention was expected to be the Republicans' showcase opportunity to feature McCain and running mate Sarah Palin to the world audience.

    At least temporarily, Gustav has replaced the convention as the top national story.

    McCain campaign manager Rick Davis said it was inappropriate to ponder the political costs of delaying and perhaps toning down the McCain showcasing and verbal attacks on the Democrats.

    "We really don't have the luxury of trying to evaluate the politics of this situation," Davis said. "Right now, we have a hurricane bearing down on the Gulf."

    The hurricane was a prime topic of conversation among Texas Republican delegates, but for some here, the show needed to go on.

    "Every parade gets rained on somewhere in the country, and so some folks are not going to be able to come," said delegate Borah Van Dormolen of Salado, who was a prominent speaker at the Texas GOP convention in Houston in June.

    "But we are a party that lives by principles and lives by rules. We're here as delegates to nominate our presidential candidate," she said in a video interview with the Associated Press.

    Preparations proceeded routinely on several fronts as police and the Secret Service set up security systems around the convention facility here. And the first anti-war protest marches commenced.

    Delegate Cathie Adams, Republican National Committeewoman-elect and president of the Texas Eagle Forum, said the GOP has important business to accomplish at the convention, although her thoughts are with the people affected by the hurricane.

    "First of all, no one can take the excitement away that I have for this ticket," Adams said. "But I also think that we are here to do the business of the party, and so this is not a vacation."

    She said concern for people in the hurricane's path is uppermost in delegates' minds: "Our hearts, our prayers go out to those people."

    But, she added, "Everything that can be done is being done."

    Texas delegate Gale Sayers, of Converse, said that "whatever the RNC decides to do, I'll take part in...I spent a lot of time volunteering in shelters during Hurricane Katrina. God is the one in charge of nature ... I'm not worried and whatever they do, I'll take part in."

    But she also said she was "excited to be here spreading the pro-life and conservative message."

    Instead of delivering what was expected to be a political farewell speech of sorts on Monday, Bush will meet with emergency workers in Austin and San Antonio and then go to Louisiana when conditions permit, according to the White House.

    "(Bush) is fully committed to throw all the assets of the federal government into this fight," Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff said.

    In Ohio, Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama said he will mobilize some of his supporters to provide relief work and money to hurricane victims if needed.

    "I think we can activate an e-mail list of a couple of million people who want to give back," he said, according to AP.

    Obama said he might visit storm-damaged areas when practical.

    Bush today was at the FEMA Operations Center in Washington, thanking workers and monitoring preparations for the storm's landfall.

    "There's been a lot of work done to get ready for the storm," Bush said. "Across the Gulf Coast, there's governors and state officials and local leaders that are taking this storm very seriously and are preparing proactively."

    As the weekend progressed, White House officials took pains to demonstrate vigorous engagement in storm preparedness. Bush said that federal officials had teams of emergency managers, doctors and ambulances and aircraft on standby throughout the storm's target region.

    "The message to the people of the Gulf Coast is, this storm is dangerous," Bush said. "It is very important for you to follow the instructions and direction of state and local officials. Do not put yourself in harm's way or make rescue workers take unnecessary risks.

    "And know that the American people stand with you," Bush said. "We'll face this emergency together."

    In a phone call early today, Bush told New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin that he was "getting ready to go through this with him again," said White House Press Secretary Dana Perino.



    Chronicle reporter Julie Mason contributed from Washington. Chronicle reporter Richard Dunham contributed from St. Paul.

    [email protected]
    ‘Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.’
    Oscar Wilde

  • #2
    You know they are doing the right thing and they are thinking about the citizens not themselves I am sure that if obama was in this situation he would just run for the hills and hide in a cave like his uncle is doing. He would not have any compasion for the american hearts. The republicans might be trying to make up for what happened three years ago but hey we all learn from our mistakes and they made a few then but you can not blame all on the government the people knew in advance that a storm was coming like now. I am proud of the GOP and what they are doing
    Lawdog TCSO
    In God We Trust all Others we Check NCIC
    well daisy if you do

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    • #3
      It's for the best, this storm is no joke...God watch over the people out there...
      sigpic

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      • #4
        Yea this is going to be one nasty storm. The next 24hrs are gonna be brutal.
        "Friendly Fire, isn't"

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        • #5
          It's sad that they have to do that. McCain and the president being in New Orleans doesn't do anything but maybe get votes. Their presence detracts from rescue efforts, because emergency personnel who could be doing emergency work have to do traffic control, crowd control, etc. for the politicians. Unfortunately, there are millions of people out there who are so stupid as to base their measure of a politician's effectiveness by what photo opportunities he shows up for.
          Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. - Ronald Reagan

          I don't think It'll happen in the US because we don't trust our government. We are a country of skeptics, raised by skeptics, founded by skeptics. - Amaroq

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          • #6
            Palin's selection shows that McCain wants to distance himself from the Republican establishment. He took advantage of an excuse to get Bush and Cheney off the stage without offending the conservative base. Brilliant!

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            • #7
              I'm very proud McCain did this and, as a gift from God to Republicans, he let New Orleans off easy this time, so the word is the party is back on!

              I can't wait!

              McCain / Palin GET SOME!
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