MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) - The McCain campaign has 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, CNN has learned.
Louisiana Republican State Party Chair Roger Villere Jr. tells CNN some Louisiana delegates have already departed while others plan to leave, though he could not give exact numbers.
The same plane will fly back to Minnesota if delegates have children or other family members they want to remove from the area.
“The McCain campaign has been extremely helpful," Villere said.
(CNN) - CNN spotted top McCain aides Charlie Black and Rick Davis on the convention floor Sunday afternoon, shortly before the campaign announces expected changes to the Republican convention.
Davis is McCain's campaign manger and Black is a senior adviser.
St. Paul, Minnesota (CNN) - The Republican National Committee and the McCain campaign will hold a 4 p.m. ET press conference to announce updated plans for the party's presidential convention, slated to start Monday.
Earlier Sunday, McCain said the convention would undergo significant changes.
Watch the press conference on CNN and CNN.com/live.
(CNN) - The Democratic National Committee has canceled its Sunday event welcoming members of the media covering the Republican National Convention.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families in the region," DNC spokesman Damien LaVera said.
LIMA, Ohio (CNN) - After attending church Sunday morning, Obama repeated his message to Gulf Coast residents to escape the wrath of Hurricane Gustav by evacuating, and said he would talk with officials to see if the campaign’s network of volunteers and donors can be used to help.
“There is enormous urgency in making sure that people take the evacuation seriously,” said Obama. “They are doing everything they can to execute an effective evacuation but we need people’s cooperation.”
“What we want to do is we want to find out first from folks on the ground what is going to be most helpful. We don’t want to solicit a bunch of canned goods that cant get there, or bottles of water and then learn that they already have water,” he later added. “So we are going to wait over the next 48 hours to find out what would be the most useful. I think we can get tons of volunteers to travel down there if it becomes necessary.”
“So it becomes a question of what people on the ground need and once we determine that then we can activate our email list of a couple of million people who want to give back,” he continued.
John McCain headed to the region on Saturday but Obama said he was hesitant to do the same because he was afraid of drawing away local law and emergency resources that are needed whenever he travels. McCain visited a command center in Mississippi where mandatory evacuation is not in effect and Obama said he thought it was ‘fine’ that the Arizona senator wanted to see the situation for himself.
Obama appeared more confident Saturday in preparations made for the storm than he had on Friday night, saying he had spoken to the head of FEMA who told him buses are ready to get people out, unlike when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.
“There appears to be better coordination between the state and the city in Louisiana,” said Obama. “I haven’t spoken to folks in Mississippi or Alabama. It appears there is coordination between the four states that there wasn’t last time. So my hope is that we all learned from the terrible lesson that we saw after Katrina and Rita.”
Obama also called into local Gulf Coast media to further encourage listeners and viewers to evacuate, telling them that the country praying for them. He plans to speak with Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff later Sunday.
UPDATE: The campaign has posted information for Gulf Coast residents on its blog, as well as links to the Red Cross and Save the Children Web sites for supporters who want to donate.
The post tells visitors that New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has declared a mandatory evacuation, gives the Louisiana emergency hotline number, and links to the state's Web site for any other emergency information needed. It also has a variety of links for Mississippi.
PEARL, Mississippi (CNN) - Presumptive Republican nominee John McCain told reporters Sunday there would be significant changes to the upcoming GOP convention, saying it would be inappropriate to hold a political celebration in light of the imminent arrival of Hurricane Gustav.
“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 Arizona senator, who spoke after his tour of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency in Pearl, Mississippi, did not elaborate on what those changes might be, instead saying the campaign will release a statement in the next few hours.
McCain did say the convention would need to transition from a "party event" to a "call to the nation for action": "I pledge that tomorrow night, and if necessary, throughout our convention if necessary, to act as Americans not Republicans, because America needs us now no matter whether we are
Republican or Democrat.’’
(CNN) - Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain on Sunday defended the experience level and judgment of his recently-chosen running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
The 44-year-old Palin is a first-term governor, and her previous political experience has been as a mayor and a council member in a small Alaska town.
This has spurred questions about her background that emerged as topics on Sunday news talk shows, particularly because Republicans have been criticizing the experience of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.
Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace cited McCain's characterization of Obama as being "dangerously unprepared to be president" and asked McCain whether Palin is "even more dangerously unprepared" regarding national security and foreign policy.
He said Palin "understands the challenges that we face."
"Oh, no. Look, she has got the right judgment. She has got the right judgment. She doesn't think, like Senator Obama does, that Iran is a minor irritant," McCain said.
McCain said Palin knows the U.S. military effort in Iraq called the surge "worked and succeeded," while Obama "still to this day refuses to acknowledge that the surge has succeeded."
McCain cites her 12 years of "elected office experience" and her work as Alaska's governor.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senator Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle became the latest prominent Democrats to slam John McCain's choice of a vice presidential running mate, both saying that the Arizona senator "buckled" to the extreme right.
Speaking to CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Sunday, Dodd called the selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin "the choice of Dobson, Robertson, and Limbaugh"-referring to Focus on the Family chairman James Dobson, televangelist Pat Robertson, and conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh.
"This is a real sop to the extreme conservative elements of the Republican Party. John McCain's knees buckled because he was fearful of what the extreme right was going to say about this ticket, that's what this comes down to," the former Democratic presidential candidate said on "Late Edition".
Shortly afterwards on the same program, Daschle voiced similar sentiments.
"The choice is somewhat mystifying to me, Wolf. It's inexplicable. the only explanation to me is that he buckled, he knuckled under, to the extreme right-wing pressures that he was feeling these last several weeks."
Daschle called Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, the "perfect choice" for a woman vice presidential candidate, and Dodd ran off a list of Republican women whom he feels are more capable.
"I think of Elizabeth Dole, I think of Jodi Rell, the governor of Connecticut, I think of Kay Bailey Hutchison, I think of Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe. I can recite off the top of my head a number of Republican candidates, women, who are far more qualified, with all due respect to Sarah Palin," Dodd said.
On ABC's "This Week", Senator John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, said that McCain wanted to choose former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge or independent Senator Joe Lieberman, but that "Rush Limbaugh and the right-wing vetoed it."
(CNN) - Presumptive Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin has been compared to past VP picks Dan Quayle and Geraldine Ferraro for her relatively low profile on the national stage, but now Democrats are likening the Alaskan governor to another running mate: Vice President Dick Cheney.
Speaking on ABC's "This Week" Sunday, Sen. John Kerry said Palin is a member of the "flat-earth caucus" and her stances on climate change are in lock-step with those of the vice president.
"With the choice of Governor Palin, it's now the third term of Dick Cheney, because what he's done is he's chosen somebody who actually doesn't believe that climate change is manmade," Kerry said.
Kerry also said Palin is "Cheney-esque" when it comes to her conservative stances on social issues.
Shortly before being named John McCain's running mate, Palin told the conservative magazine Newsmax she does not believe climate change is man-made - a statement that puts her at odds with the preumptive GOP nominee and the 2008 Republican platform.
"A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location," Palin told the magazine. "I'm not one though who would attribute it to being man-made."
McCain has said addressing climate change is a top priority, and the Arizona senator backs implementing mandatory caps on carbon emissions if he is elected president. The 2008 Republican platform also includes the words "global warming" for the first time and refers to the effect of "increased atmospheric carbon."
(CNN) - President Bush and Vice President Cheney will skip the Republican Presidential Convention due to Hurricane Gustav, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino announced Sunday.
First Lady Laura Bush is still slated to attend.
Bush and Cheney were supposed to address the convention Monday evening.