command center in Jackson, Mississippi, on Sunday.
Gustav prompts 'substantial' changes to RNC agenda
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney will not attend the GOP convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, because of Hurricane Gustav, White House press secretary Dana Perino said Sunday.
In addition, "substantial" changes to the Republican National Convention program will be announced Sunday because of the storm, two Republican officials said.
Sen. John McCain said Sunday it wouldn't be appropriate to hold a political celebration during the storm. He said there would be significant changes, but did not elaborate.
"We must redirect our efforts from the really celebratory event of the nomination of president and vice president of our party to acting as all Americans," said McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
McCain said it's likely the event would change into a "call to the nation for action."
"I pledge that tomorrow night, and if necessary, throughout our convention ... to act as Americans, not Republicans, because America needs us now no matter whether we are Republican or Democrat,'' he said.
The McCain campaign arranged a charter flight from Minneapolis-St. Paul to Jackson, Mississippi, on Sunday afternoon for delegates who wish to return to the Gulf Coast region ahead of Hurricane Gustav.
Louisiana Republican State Party Chair Roger Villere Jr. said some of his states' delegates have already departed, while others plan to leave.
The same plane will fly back to Minnesota if delegates have children or other family members they want to remove from the area.
A senior McCain source said Saturday that officials were considering turning the convention into a massive telethon to raise money for the Red Cross and other agencies to help with hurricane aid. [...]
I think the McCain campaign is handling this wisely. Not only is it not possible to party while a large disaster hits our country, but this affects delegates and convention speakers from the affected states, and other attendees who will be needed to help in the afflicted areas.
Some Democrats may gloat about the difficulties this has created for the Republicans and their convention, but I think how the Republicans and the McCain campaign are are dealing with it speaks volumes more. Let the crass Democrats snicker cynically, while the Republicans roll up their sleeves, deal with reality the way it is, and show the Dem's how it's done.
I've really been impressed with what a class act the McCain campaign has been so far. I have great hopes it will continue thus.