McCain Supporters: The Celebration Can Wait

Photo by Daniel C. Vock, Stateline.org
The Xcel Energy Center, site of the Republican National Convention.

Sept. 2, 2008, 12:00 p.m. EDT

MINNEAPOLIS - Long-time supporters of John McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee for president, backed his decision to cut back on partisan activities at the Republican National Convention Monday (Sept. 1) as Hurricane Gustav made landfall in southern Louisiana some 1,200 miles away.

Photo by Daniel C. Vock, Stateline.org
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) addresses the Ohio delegation at the Republican National Convention Monday. He stressed teamwork and the need for Republicans to unite in November. "We don't have enough people in our party to be throwing people overboard, especially in Minnesota and Ohio," he said.

"I don't think it's right for us to be doing the celebrating now. I can wait until November 4. All I want to do is nominate Sen. McCain and (Alaska) Gov. (Sarah) Palin (as vice-president), and I'll be happy," said Illinois state Rep. Jim Durkin, a Republican in charge of McCain's efforts in the Land of Lincoln.

With the storm's threat diminished, convention officials decided to resume the convention's full schedule on Tuesday (Sept. 2).

Scheduled addresses by President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were canceled Monday night and instead, First Lady Laura Bush and McCain's wife, Cindy McCain, took the stage to ask viewers and convention-goers to support charities helping the hurricane victims. Bush is expected to address the gathering Tuesday evening by satellite.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), the host governor and one of the McCain campaign's national chairmen, dismissed concerns that the scaled-back plans would hurt McCain's chances of getting elected in November.

"It's important, as Sen. McCain said, to put first things first. You can't have a political festival when part of the country is facing a challenge or potential crisis."