DETROIT (CNN) – Barack Obama cut short his Labor Day remarks at what was billed as a workers’ rally to focus on Gulf Coast residents in the path of Hurricane Gustav. He asked for a moment of silence and said “today is not a day for political speeches.”
“I have to tell you, that as we meet today, I have to change my plans a little bit,” said Obama. “Our neighbors and our fellow citizens in Louisiana and across the Gulf Coast are once again under siege from a terrible storm.”
“Although we are prayerful that this will not be the same kind of situation that we saw three years ago, today is not a day for political speeches. I hope you’ll forgive me – I hope you don’t mind,” he continued. “Today is a day for all of us to come together as Americans and send our thoughts and prayers to our brothers and sisters who are worrying at this very hour about their homes and their loved ones.”
Obama asked that his supporters give what they can to the Red Cross and other relief organizations. The campaign also sent out an e-mail and text message to their network soliciting donations.
Obama intertwined his planned pro-labor message with the day’s news, saying “that when we show solidarity with those folks in Louisiana and Mississippi and Texas and Alabama that we are expressing the true spirit of the labor movement. Because the idea behind the labor movement is that you don’t walk alone, you’re not by yourself…”
After a moment of silence, Obama asked that people remember the day’s spirit of unity going forward because “there are lot of people out there suffering silent storms.”
Obama will continue with day’s schedule, delivering speeches in Monroe, Michigan and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but they will be shorter than usual and – like here in Detroit – focus on the Gulf Coast.
The remainder of the week, however, is up in the air. He will return home to Chicago Monday night to closely monitor the hurricane, the campaign says.
(CNN) – Sarah Palin, who announced on Monday that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant, indicated during her run for Alaska governor that she was a firm supporter of abstinence-only education in schools.
In a 2006 Eagle Forum questionnaire, Palin indicated that she supported funding abstinence-until-marriage education programs instead of teaching sex-education programs.
"Explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support," Palin wrote in the conservative group’s questionnaire.
(CNN) - Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin and husband Todd are talking directly about their 17-year-old daughter's pregnancy.
In a joint statement released by the McCain campaign, the Palins say their daughter will keep the baby and marry the father.
Full statement from Sarah and Todd Palin:
"We have been blessed with five wonderful children who we love with all our heart and mean everything to us. Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned. We’re proud of Bristol’s decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents. As Bristol faces the responsibilities of adulthood, she knows she has our unconditional love and support.
"Bristol and the young man she will marry are going to realize very quickly the difficulties of raising a child, which is why they will have the love and support of our entire family. We ask the media to respect our daughter and Levi’s privacy as has always been the tradition of children of candidates."
ST. PAUL (CNN) – Bristol Palin, the 17 year old daughter of Sarah Palin, is pregnant and will keep the baby and marry the father, a senior McCain aide confirmed to CNN Monday.
McCain was aware of Bristol Palin’s pregnancy before he chose her mother for his running mate, the aide said.
“Senator McCain knew this and felt in no way did it disqualify her from being vice president,” said the aide. “Families have difficulties sometimes and lucky for her she has a supportive family.”
Bristol Palin, a senior in high school, is about 5 months along, in her second trimester, according to the aide.
The aide said they decided to reveal this information now because of rampant Internet rumors that Sarah Palin’s four month old baby, who has Down Syndrome, was actually Bristol’s.
“In the course of correcting that, we needed to get the truth out,” said the McCain aide.
In a statement from Sarah and Todd Palin, they said they were “proud of Bristol’s decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents.”
They also asked the media to respect their daughter’s privacy.
The McCain aide insisted a key point to keep in mind is that Bristol decided to keep the baby, a decision “supported by her parents.”
ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) – Cindy McCain and first lady Laura Bush will appear before the Republican convention Monday to encourage people to donate to the relief efforts in the Gulf region, a senior McCain campaign official told reporters in a conference call.
Republican officials have dramatically scaled back the first day of the convention as Hurricane Gustav slammed into the Louisiana coast. In addition to Bush and McCain appearances, the convention will perform the bare bones official business needed to start the convention. Rick Davis, John McCain’s campaign manager, emphasized that all political activity will be suspended for the time being.
“We hope to regain our schedule at some point,” Davis said.
Davis also said that Target and FedEx will help convention attendees and the Red Cross send care packages to the Gulf region. Later in the week, delegates, staff and other volunteers will meet in Minneapolis to assemble the care packages. In addition, the McCain campaign is setting up a phone bank in the Hilton Hotel in Minneapolis to raise money for Gulf Coast charities.
(CNN) – Count first lady Laura Bush among the many fans of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Sen. John McCain’s surprise pick for the number two spot on the Republican ticket.
“I’m so excited . . . about getting to vote for a Republican woman for vice president,” Laura Bush said Monday on American Morning. “I’m thrilled.”
Bush was particularly taken with Palin’s rugged Alaskan lifestyle. “I know how strong she is. I know what that kind of life in a state like Alaska is and the kind of women that state produces and I’m very thrilled that she’s on our ticket.”
The first lady also rejected the notion that Palin lacked the experience to serve as vice president and possibly as president if necessary.
“I think she has a lot of experience that none of the other three people who are on either ticket have,” Bush told CNN’s John Roberts.
“Mayors across the country will tell you that running a city, running a town is a totally different experience from any other kind of government,” the first lady added.
“I think she has a different experience. She’s the mother of five kids. She’s doing that while she’s worked . . . I just have a lot of admiration for her.”
Since McCain’s announcement late last week, Palin has proven popular with the Republican Party’s conservative base, a constituency McCain desperately needs in the general election match-up against Sen. Barack Obama. But, the little known Alaska governor has also faced criticism from Democrats for her lack of experience – especially on foreign policy issues – after the McCain campaign has argued for several months that Obama lacks sufficient experience to be president.
(CNN) - Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Don Fowler apologized Sunday for recently joking Hurricane Gustav's expected landfall on the same day as the opening of the Republican National Convention suggested God was on the Democrats' side.
A YouTube video of the comments posted by the conservative blog RedState.org and showed Fowler joking with South Carolina Rep. John Spratt about the timing of the hurricane while on a flight from the Democratic National Convention back to South Carolina. The person who filmed the conversation is not identified.
“The hurricane is going to hit New Orleans about the time they start. The timing is, at least it appears now, it will be there Monday. That just demonstrates God is on our side,” Fowler said, while laughing. Fowler also told Spratt that “everything’s cool.”
Speaking to the Associated Press Sunday, Fowler said his comments were intended to make light of the late Rev. Jerry Falwell's remark that the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 was God's punishment for abortion and homosexuality.
"I don't believe in a God that's vengeful," Fowler said. "I believe in a God that's compassionate."
"This is a point of national concern. I think everybody of good will has great empathy and sympathy for people in New Orleans," Fowler also said. "Most religious people are praying for people in New Orleans. There is no political connotation to this whatsoever. This was just poking fun at Jerry Falwell and the nonsensical thing he had said several years ago."
South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson sharply criticized Fowler's comments, saying, “The outrageous behavior of two of the Obama campaign's highest profile supporters in the south is despicable, a cynical polarization of life and death. I call on Barack Obama to immediately denounce Fowler and Spratt and demand sincere apologies from these members of the Democratic leadership.”
ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) - A White House official says first lady Laura Bush and Cindy McCain will speak briefly from the podium at the Republican convention tonight, urging delegates and television viewers to help hurricane victims. Mrs. Bush herself said at a Louisiana delegation breakfast Monday morning that she will give a speech tonight, and noted she will talk a bit about what a terrific first lady Cindy McCain will make. The Republican National Committee will reveal more details within the next hour.
ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) - On the eve of the Republican convention, a new national poll suggests the race for the White House remains dead even.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Sunday night shows the Obama-Biden ticket leading the McCain-Palin ticket by one point, 49 percent to 48 percent, a statistical dead heat.
The survey was conducted Friday through Sunday, after both the conclusion of the Democratic convention and McCain’s selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate.
A previous CNN poll, taken just one week earlier, suggested the race between Sens. McCain, R-Arizona, and Obama, D-Illinois, was tied at 47 percent each.
“The convention - and particularly Obama's speech - seems to be well-received. And the selection of Sarah Palin as the GOP running mate, also seems to be well-received. So why is the race still a virtual tie? Probably because the two events created equal and opposite bounces - assuming that either one created a bounce at all,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
PITTSBURGH, Pennslyvania (CNN) – Hurricane Gustav is having an impact on both sides of the aisle: hours after prompting Republican John McCain to scale back the GOP convention schedule, the storm is affecting the plans of his Democratic counterparts as well.
Citing the dire situation along the Gulf Coast, Senator Joe Biden cancelled his plans to march in Pittsburgh's annual Labor Day parade Monday. Instead, Biden was to give a statement on the hurricane at 10:30 a.m. ET.
Watch: Biden reacts to Gustav
The campaign still planned to hold two afternoon events in Scranton, Pennsylvania, including a discussion on jobs and the economy at Biden's childhood home.