ST. PAUL — Republican National Convention planners are finalizing details for the schedule of speakers and events Tuesday, after the threat posed by Hurricane Gustav gutted the agenda on the convention’s kick-off day in St. Paul.
……Both Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney canceled their speaking slots Monday. Monday was used only to conduct official business necessary to proceed with the nomination of John McCain as the Republican Party’s presidential candidate.
Meanwhile, first lady Laura Bush told Republican convention-goers, “First, we are all Americans,” as she expressed support for victims of the hurricane.
Bush introduced taped messages from governors of four Gulf Coast states before being joined by Cindy McCain on stage on the opening day of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.
“As we all know, events on the Gulf Coast region have changed the focus of our attention, and our first priority now today is to ensure the safety and the well-being of those living in the Gulf Coast region,” Bush said. “When such events occur we are reminded that first we are all Americans, and that our shared American ideals will always transcend political parties and partisanship.
“We hope that the people of the Gulf Coast know that the American people are here to do what we can to assist them,” she said.
Bush and McCain addressed the convention even though the schedule of events was trimmed down considerably out of respect for victims of the storm.
Bush and McCain urged guests to donate to hurricane relief efforts in affected states, before the convention adjourned for the day.
Donations are being accepted at: www.causegreater.com.
“The challenges will continue in the days ahead,” McCain said. “I would ask that each one of us commit to join together to aid those in need as quickly as possible. … As John has been saying in the past couple days this is a time when we take off our Republican hats and put on our American hats.”
……John McCain has so far called for a bare-bones affair in St. Paul. Republicans at the convention have been using some of their downtime to raise money for relief efforts along the Gulf Coast. One telethon raised more than $1 million in the course of an hour Monday afternoon, though mostly through a single donation.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist taped video messages for the convention, lauding the spirit of cooperation among their southern states.
“You’re seeing Republican governors in Republican states doing a fabulous job of taking care of the citizens,” Perry said.
Good for the Republicans. Delaying the start of the convention in deference to Gustav’s victims is the right thing to do. There’s still plenty of time for speeches and gathering support and momentum. Right now, the spotlight is on citizens in need.