Hurricane complicates GOP National Convention

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By Carol A. Clark

Both President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheny canceled their appearances on day one of the 2008 Republican National Convention Monday as Hurricane Gustav raced toward New Orleans.

The first-night program was cut from seven to two-and-a-half-hours and aides of presumptive presidential nominee John McCain chartered a jet to fly delegates back to their hurricane-threatened states along the Gulf Coast.

The formal business of the convention includes nominating McCain for president and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate Wednesday.

McCain's acceptance speech, set for prime time Thursday evening, is among the most critical events of the campaign.

Revamping an event months in the planning is unprecedented, affecting not only the program on the podium but the accompanying fundraising, partying and other political activity that unfolds around the edges of a national political convention.

McCain and Palin made a stop in Jackson, Miss., Sunday where they were briefed on hurricane preparations. McCain also indicated he may make his acceptance speech not from the convention podium but via satellite from the Gulf Coast region.

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