August 30th, 2008
04:47 PM ET
15 years ago

GOP officials say Gustav likely to force convention changes

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Hurricane Gustav is forcing the GOP to consider major convention changes."](CNN) - McCain campaign manager Rick Davis plans to meet with Republican officials in charge of the party's convention planning in Minneapolis-St. Paul Sunday to review the latest news on Hurricane Gustav and discuss what their options might be - then consulting with the presumptive Republican nominee to determine what changes may need to be made.

"I wouldn't call it a nightmare, but it is a very perplexing challenge," said a GOP official planning the event.

Read the very latest on convention changes

A senior McCain source tells CNN they are considering turning the convention into a service event - a massive telethon to raise money for the Red Cross and other agencies to help with the hurricane.

"He wants to do something service oriented if and when the storm hits and it’s as bad as its expected to be now," said this McCain source.

They are also hoping to get McCain himself to a storm-affected area as soon as possible.

Earlier, John McCain had suggested to a FOX News interviewer that the convention could be suspended if it seemed a festive gathering was inappropriate in light of the potential destruction the storm may bring.

Republican Governors Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Charlie Crist of Florida, Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Rick Perry of Texas - all states which lie in the path of Gustav, currently a Category 4 hurricane - will all skip the GOP convention because of the storm.

The storm has already forced last-minute changes in the convention's announced schedule: If the convention - originally scheduled to start Monday - commences by Tuesday, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's speech will likely move to that night from Wednesday. Other changes are being contemplated this afternoon.

The hardest decisions - like whether to cancel a day or two of the four-day gathering, or to or condense days - will be made at the last second, say GOP officials. But the logistics of those decisions are already being discussed.

There are two scenarios under consideration for President Bush's speech, currently slated for Monday night. If the president is on hand to speak, his wife Laura will give a short speech. If he is not, the first lady will give a longer speech, while the president himself speaks via satellite from the White House or a location affected by the storm. That decision will likely not be made until Sunday evening, or perhaps Monday.

Officials won't discuss in detail how McCain's plans might change, but say he is likely to go Monday and/or possibly Tuesday to an aid station in an area hit by the hurricane, if its intensity continues as expected.

soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Capsaicin

    My prayers are with the good people of Louisiana and Texas and I hope this hurricane peters out, but as far as screwing up GOP planning goes it almost seems poetic justice after Focus on the Family rep and Republicans were 'praying' for rain on Obama's Invesco Field night.

    Maybe that's what happens when one attempts to invoke God cynically for partisan political gain.

    August 30, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  2. Bryan B.

    Of course they are going to change it. It would be really bad for there to be a hurricane ripping New Orleans apart while Bush was making a speech at the convention. This may give McCain a relatively weak few days since he would not have any concrete plans for campaigning during the time that the convention was supposed to be.

    August 30, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |