After a calm during the storm, the Republican National Convention is gearing up again.
President Bush — originally scheduled to speak Monday night — will address the GOP throngs by satellite, while Laura Bush, Democrat-turned-independent Sen. Joe Lieberman and erstwhile presidential candidate Fred Thompson will speak as well. Word is that Rudy Giuliani, originally on tap for tonight, will likely speak later in the week. The convention didn’t address the whereabouts of Dick Cheney, whose Monday speech was also canceled because of Gustav. This all after some had begun to wonder if Bush and Cheney’s absence from the convention might not help McCain with moderates.
Beyond the official proceedings, of course, most of the activity surrounding the GOP convention never really stopped.
The convention floor gets much of the media attention, but considerable hubbub extends far beyond the Xcel Center, into downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul.
For the most part, the panel discussions, receptions and parties continued as scheduled, if at a somewhat lower key. The University of Minnesota's running sessions on foreign policy, energy security and other policy topics drew good crowds; a private lunch for Republican attorneys general at the Walker Art Center had only a few vacant seats; and the street outside a late-afternoon reception for the financial-services industry at Theater de la Jeune Lune was lined for several blocks with late-model rental cars and a sprinkling of stretch limos.
Most groups gave Gustav and its victims a nod. State party officials cautioned delegates to keep the storm in mind and not get too festive. At some events, organizers encouraged donations, much as convention officials did. Other events always were focused on the region, given the convention's timing three years after Hurricane Katrina, including Monday's night's All Star Jambalaya charity fundraiser for the Tipitina's Foundation and Louisiana musicians, and a Spirits of the Gulf Coast party sponsored by the Distilled Spirits Council. And a few new Gustav-related events cropped up, including a 4 p.m. prayer service today for those in the storm's path, hosted by Texas Lt. Gov. David Drewhurst.
Politics did peek through at times. In a GOP press release excerpting a video by four Republican governors of states affected by Gustav, the party quoted Texas Gov. Rick Perry as saying that "you’re seeing Republican governors ... doing a fabulous job of taking care of the citizens. That’s what we do."