GOP schedule changes due to Gustav (2nd Update)

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As the Republicans prepare to convene in St. Paul, Minnesota, hurricane Gustav is preparing to jar the Gulf coast in a landfall reminiscent of hurricane Katrina. While the actual convention schedule hasn’t yet been changed, some speakers such as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Texas Gov. Rick Perry had said they will be skipping the convention to oversee the hurricane effort.

The convention is on schedule to being Monday, September 1st.

A report on it all from Politico:

ST. PAUL, Minn. — President Bush is unlikely to make it to the Republican National Convention, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) may deliver his acceptance speech via satellite because of the historically huge hurricane threatening New Orleans, top officials said.

Late Saturday night, the RNC was planning to issue a release announcing the formation of ” working group of representatives from each of the states in Hurricane Gustav’s path. The group will ensure that all affected delegates have information and assistance in real time.

“The Affected States Working Group is led by all five state party chairs from the affected area along with other delegation officials. The purpose of the group will be to regularly brief their delegates and convention planners, provide access to timely information and assistance, and give input on appropriate steps that can be taken from Minnesota.”

Officials insisted that the convention, scheduled to open here on Monday, will go on — albeit in a more limited and sedate form — even if Hurricane Gustav stays on its projected path. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin ordered a mandatory evacuation beginning at 8 a.m. Sunday after federal officials said Gustav could grow to a catastrophic Category 5 and hit Monday afternoon somewhere between eastern Texas and western Mississippi.

A report on the convention site from CBS News:

We’ll see how it plays out in the next 24 to 48 hours but I’m guessing there will be some adjustment to the GOP schedule. Then again, the evacuation effort will probably be handled much better than during Katrina and it may not become as big a story as the media seems to be projecting.


Word out now that McCain has personally ordered for curtailing some of the convention due to hurricane Gustav:

ST. PAUL, Minn. – John McCain tore up the script for his Republican National Convention on Sunday, ordering the cancellation of all but essential opening-day activities as Hurricane Gustav churned toward New Orleans.

“This is a time when we have to do away with our party politics and we have to act as Americans,” he said as fellow Republicans converged on their convention city to nominate him for the White House.

On the eve of his convention, McCain positioned himself as an above-politics, concerned potential president determined to avoid the errors made by President Bush three years ago. “I have every expectation that we will not see the mistakes of Katrina repeated,” he said.

Bush and Vice President Cheney scrapped plans to address the convention on Monday, and McCain’s aides chartered a jet to fly delegates back to their hurricane-threatened states along the Gulf Coast. Campaign manager Rick Davis said the first-night program was being cut from seven hours to two and one half.

The formal business of the convention includes nominating McCain for president and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate on Wednesday. McCain’s acceptance speech, set for prime time on Thursday evening, is among the most critical events of the campaign for his chances of winning the White House.

The hasty reordering of an event months in the planning was unprecedented, affecting not only the program on the podium but the accompanying fundraising, partying and other political activity that unfolds around the edges of a national political convention.

McCain said he was looking forward to being the convention but did not say when he would arrive. He spoke via satellite from St. Louis after he and Palin received a briefing on hurricane preparations in Jackson, Miss.

In an interview with NBC, he said it was possible he would make his acceptance speech not from the convention podium but via satellite from the Gulf Coast region.

Video from the Associated Press of McCain discussing the changes:

I’m betting the GOP convention will become a “fund raiser” of sorts for disaster relief as opposed to campaign funds.

More as it develops…

2nd Update

Report from the Associated Press:

Story from Yahoo News:

ST. PAUL, Minn. – As anxious Republican delegates stood in wait, GOP presidential candidate John McCain and party officials kept a watchful eye on Hurricane Gustav Monday and weighed next steps for their shortened convention. McCain said defenses against Gustav were better than when Katrina slammed into New Orleans but still “not perfect.”

President Bush, whose administration was widely accused of a botched handling of the Katrina disaster, traveled to Texas rather than to St. Paul, where he had been scheduled to speak on the opening night of the Republican National Convention. Bush planned visits to Austin and San Antonio to visit staging grounds for hurricane response efforts.

The convention remained in limbo on its first day. At McCain’s behest, party leaders called off the usual festivities and planned only a truncated business meeting in the afternoon.

Gustav weakened somewhat to a Category 2 storm as it neared landfall along the mostly evacuated Louisiana coast. The National Hurricane Center said the storm, with 110-mph winds, should hit somewhere southwest of New Orleans by midday.

McCain, who visited Mississippi on Sunday, said that while there is now better coordination among federal, state and local authorities, there are still problems.

“There’s still, I think, not as much communications equipment as we want. There’s still not enough search-and-rescue capabilities, although they’re trying to fix that. It’s not perfect, but I think that it’s dramatically different than it was in response to Katrina,” McCain said in an interview broadcast on NBC’s “Today” show. The interview was taped on Sunday. / McCain’s wife, Cindy, and his new running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, arrived in the convention city Sunday night.

First lady Laura Bush, who had also been scheduled to address the convention’s opening session, said the government response to Hurricane Katrina “is going to be a lot better” than it was three years ago for Katrina.

“Lessons learned from Katrina have served the United States very well,” she told CNN. She said those lessons extend to other emergencies as well, not just hurricanes.

Mrs. Bush planned to spend the opening day of the convention meeting delegates informally.

“I know they’re disappointed they’re not going to get to have the program tonight, but everyone understands it, everyone is thinking about everybody all across the Gulf Coast,” she told “The Early Show” on CBS. “All their eyes are on the Gulf Coast and everyone is thinking about that.”

So it appears as though Gustav is weakening and perhaps will not affect the rest of the week at the GOP.

I’ll have a new post and report on the afternoon activities from Day 1 at the RNC later today.