Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
US Republicans aim for quick Gustav response -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

ELEANOR HALL: The approaching storm has already thrown this week's Republican National Convention
into disarray.

President Bush has pulled out and many of the opening day's activities have been scrubbed.

Republicans don't want to be seen partying when the massive storm comes ashore.

They are also desperate to avoid a repeat of their poor response to Hurricane Katrina.

North America correspondent Michael Rowland reports from the convention floor in St Paul,
Minnesota.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Hurricane Gustav has dramatically altered the political dynamics of the Republican
convention.

What was to have been a week-long assault on Barack Obama and the Democrats, and a
made-for-television promotion of Republican Party values, has now been turned into a public service
event.

The party's presumptive presidential nominee John McCain issued his riding orders to delegates
during an appearance via satellite from the Gulf Coast.

JOHN MCCAIN: We have to join with 300-million other Americans on behalf of our fellow citizens. We
are going to care for these people in their time of need and we are going to display it in every
possible way as Americans always have and Americans always will.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Most of the opening day's events have been cancelled.

The convention will be formally opened but there'll be the bare minimum of business.

And, as per John McCain's instructions, there'll be absolutely no politics.

Rick Davis is the McCain campaign manager.

RICK DAVIS: Owing to the fact that the Senator has asked us to take our Republican hats off and put
our American hats on, tomorrow's program will be business only and we will refrain from any
political rhetoric that would be traditional in an opening session of a convention.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: The schedule for the rest of the week is up in the air. Republican officials will
review the situation on a day by day basis.

But if the hurricane is as devastating as expected there's every chance John McCain won't make it
to Minnesota. Mr Davis hasn't out the possibility of the Senator accepting his nomination via
satellite.

RICK DAVIS: Obviously, he would like to be here. This is culmination of a political career that has
been launched a long time ago. Hard fought primary campaign so obviously he is going to do
everything he can but obviously, too, we are not going to do anything that would be deemed
inappropriate during the course of this kind of situation.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Already a no-show is President George Bush.

He was to have given the opening night speech here but wants to focus instead on hurricane relief
efforts.

GEORGE W. BUSH: In light of these events, I will not be going to Minnesota for the Republican
National Convention.

I am going to travel down to Texas tomorrow to visit with the Emergency Operations Center in Austin
where co-ordination among federal, state and local government officials is occurring.

I intend to go down to San Antonio where state and local officials are pre-positioning relief
materials for Texas and Louisiana. And I'll have a chance to visit with residents of both states
who have been evacuated.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Mr Bush and the Republican Party generally want to avoid the condemnation heaped
upon them after the poor federal response to Hurricane Katrina three years ago.

Mr Bush doesn't want to end his time in the White House with a repeat of the main domestic policy
failure of his presidency.

John McCain also wants to be seen as a leader who can respond effectively and quickly to a national
crisis. That's why he's changed his campaign schedule and travelled to the Gulf to talk to
emergency response teams.

While the Republicans, at this stage at least, are being denied a prime time forum for going after
Barack Obama, there are some potential upsides from the revamped convention schedule.

There are plans for a mass fundraising drive here - a move that could generate plenty of positive
images for a party still very much on the nose across America.

And while nobody here will say so publicly, the absence of a deeply unpopular president is a
godsend for John McCain, who's spent the campaign so far trying to avoid him.

But of course another botched response to a natural disaster could be electoral poison for the
Republicans.

In St Paul Minnesota this is Michael Rowland reporting for The World Today.