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McCain orders convention curtailed for Gustav

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  • Beowulf
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080901/ap_on_el_pr/cvn_convention_rdp McCain orders
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 1, 2008
      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080901/ap_on_el_pr/cvn_convention_rdp <http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080901/ap_on_el_pr/cvn_convention_rdp>

      McCain orders convention curtailed for Gustav

      By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent 10 minutes ago

      ST. PAUL, Minn. - John McCain tore up the script for his Republican
      National Convention on Sunday, canceling most opening-day activities
      and positioning himself as above mere politics 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 took on the role of a 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 Dick Cheney scrapped plans to address the
      convention Monday night, 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.

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

      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
      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 at the convention but did
      not say when he would arrive. He spoke from St. Louis after he and
      Palin received a briefing on hurricane preparations on a quick visit
      to Jackson, Miss.

      Democratic rival Barack Obama got a briefing, too, by telephone from
      Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. Obama heard about the
      status of the storm, the evacuation effort and coordination between
      federal, state and local authorities, according to Democratic campaign
      adviser Robert Gibbs.

      McCain campaign manager Davis told reporters inside the convention
      hall that the opening program on Monday would be "business only and
      will refrain from political rhetoric."

      To help those in need, he said, "We are working with the delegations,
      financial people, finance committees, many other concerned individuals
      to do what we can to raise money for various charities that operate in
      the Gulf Coast region."

      McCain said of his briefing in Mississippi: "I'm happy to report to
      you that the coordination and the work that's being done at all levels
      appears to be excellent." He cited remaining challenges in
      communications and search and rescue operations, but emphasized that
      the response seemed to be going more smoothly than the one three years

      Later, at a rally with McCain outside St. Louis, Palin said, "There
      are consequences when government fails to make good on its most basic
      obligations, and this is true not just in times of crisis."

      "Every day the decisions of government can make lives better for our
      people or worse, add to their burdens or lighten them and strengthen
      the security of our nation or diminish that security," she said.

      The uncertainty along the Gulf Coast contrasted with a state of
      readiness inside the Xcel Center, a hockey arena transformed into a
      made-for-televison red-carpeted convention hall. Thousands of red,
      white and blue balloons nestled in netting high above the floor â€" to
      be released during final-night festivities if the Republicans decide
      to go ahead with them.

      Outside, police took nine people into custody for crossing a security
      barrier in an anti-war march. The nine, including two women in their
      70s, were charged with trespassing, according to Doug Holtz, a St.
      Paul police commander.

      Emphasizing their concern about the hurricane, McCain and his newly
      named running mate traveled to Mississippi for a tour of the state's
      emergency management center.

      "I pledge that tomorrow night, and if necessary throughout our
      convention, we will act as Americans, not as Republicans," McCain told
      reporters moments later.

      The events temporarily overshadowed a more traditionally political
      pre-convention debate over McCain's decision to name Palin to his
      ticket. She was mayor of small-town Wasilla, Alaska, for six years
      before she became governor in December 2006.

      Responding to a question after his hurricane-related remarks, McCain
      made a ringing defense of Palin, who Democrats argue has less
      experience than their presidential candidate, Obama.

      "I think Sen. Obama, if they want to go down that route, in all
      candor, she has far, far more experience than Sen. Obama does," McCain

      He cited Palin's stint as governor of a "state that produces 20
      percent of America's energy" as well as her previous membership in the
      PTA and her time spent on the city council and in the mayor's office
      in Wasilla, a town of fewer than 7,000 people outside Anchorage.

      By contrast, he said Obama "was a community organizer when she was in
      elected office. He was in the state Senate and voted 130 times
      present. He never took on his party on anything. She took on a party
      and the old bulls and the old boy network and she succeeded."

      Palin has frequently clashed with fellow Republicans in her state, and
      won office after denying an incumbent GOP governor renomination to a
      new term in office.

      But Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut said McCain's selection
      was merely designed to appease the hard-right conservatives in the
      Republican Party. "His knees buckled" when it came time to picking a
      running mate, Dodd said of McCain in an appearance on CNN.

      Democrats, too, decided to tone down their convention-week efforts.

      Party spokesman Brad Woodhouse said the Democrats had canceled a "More
      of the Same" rally that had been slated for Monday.

      Obama said he was ready to encourage his supporters to assist any
      victims of the hurricane.

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


      Associated Press writers Liz Sidoti and Sara Kugler in St. Paul,
      Charles Babington in Lima, Ohio, and Beth Fouhy in Jackson, Miss.,
      contributed to this report.
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