(CNN) – As Hurricane Gustav's power increased and the storm bore down on the Gulf Coast, Republicans grappled with the problems both logistical and political.
Republicans are acutely sensitive to any suggestion that they might be sending the wrong impression by celebrating while Gustav, currently a Category 4 hurricane, batters the Gulf Coast. It is an image that might revive memories of the Bush administration's missteps in the days following Katrina in 2005.
Asked by a Fox News Sunday interviewer whether he officials might consider suspending the convention if the storm devastates the Gulf Coast, McCain would not rule it out, saying that he was afraid "we're going to have to look at that situation and we'll try to monitor it." He added that he was in contact with governors in the affected states.
"I've been talking to all of them, but you know it just wouldn't be appropriate to have a festive occasion while a near tragedy or a terrible challenge is presented in the form of a natural disaster," he said. "So we're monitoring it from day to day, and I'm saying a few prayers too."
Beyond the question of whether delegates and high-profile guests can make it to the convention safely is what happens when they arrive in St. Paul and Minneapolis.
Last week there were reports that the storm might keep President Bush from visiting and speaking Monday night, the convention's first. In a McCain campaign conference call Saturday, RNC Deputy Chairman Frank Donatelli said that they were very aware of the situation, though he didn't think that moving the convention was a possibility.
And as the nation's attention turns to the biggest storm of this hurricane season to threaten the United States, reporters and voters alike may find their attention riveted by events far from Minneapolis-St. Paul, site of the Republican convention.
"Like all Americans, our prayers are with those who will be affected by Hurricane Gustav," said convention president and CEO Maria Cino. "We continue to closely monitor the movement of the storm and are considering necessary contingencies. ..."
"The safety of our affected delegations is our first priority and preparing for Gustav comes before anything else."