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Gathering Storm Casts Cloud Over Republican Gathering

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(Bloomington, Minnesota)

Mother Nature is running the show in St. Paul, even while stirring up the Gulf of Mexico a thousand miles away. With the threat of Hurricane Gustav hitting the Gulf Coast, perhaps at New Orleans, there is not much of a mood here to party.

The Florida delegation held a late afternoon briefing to let folks know that many events have been canceled. The convention will go on “but this storm is far worse. If things hold up it could be a category 4 or 5….people could die from this hurricane. Some already have. This storm can have dramatic impact on people’s lives,” said Florida Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp.

For example, the convention will only meet from 3:30 to 5:30 central time on Monday’s opening day. Delegates will approve the rules and adopt the platform. There will be no speeches; there will be no confetti and fanfare.

A couple of big political fundraisers will now raise money for hurricane relief instead. Money will go to other American Red Cross and other charities. Florida GOP Chairman Jim Greer said nominee John McCain requested the toned down convention. “The senator has rightfully shown decisive leadership in doing the right thing. The senator has asked that the convention be tempered a bit. We set aside partisan politicians and we join with people in those states.”

Three years after the botched response by President Bush, then Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, it appears that public officials on both sides of the aisle want to get it right this time. Barack Obama’s campaign is pledging its massive internet fundraising operation to help raise money for disaster relief instead. All of this, and the storm might not even make landfall until Tuesday.

At the California delegation office in Minneapolis, the concern was just as heightened. California GOP Media Director Charles Moran said, “We canceled three hours of speeches,” for the Monday session. “Floor sessions start at 3 pm. It’s going to be two hours max.” Moran says a California corporate party scheduled for Tuesday will now raise money for hurricane victims.

President Bush and Vice-president Cheney are no longer coming to the Twin Cities. First Lady Laura Bush and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger have also canceled. Obviously the five Gulf Coast governors have canceled, too.

For its part, the Florida delegation was going to have a Congressional breakfast tomorrow. Now it has changed to a multi-faith prayer breakfast, hosting several clergy members. “We are going to be standing ready to help our fellow man. We aren’t Republicans or Democrats,” said Lt. Gov. Kottkamp. “Keep everyone who could be impacted by this storm in your thoughts and prayers.”

Sometimes there is something bigger in America than politics. This is one of those times.

I’ll have more from St. Paul throughout the week, as we keep an eye on the GOP and Gustav, too. www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

Parting Thoughts from the Mile High City!

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Random Thoughts from Denver

(Denver, Colorado)

I am in Denver again after two days R&R in California. I am connecting here to St. Paul for the Republican National Convention. Here are some parting thoughts from the Democrat’s event:

-While blogging in the hallway Wednesday, before the convention opened, I got a real treat. Melissa Etheridge rehearsed on stage for her night time performance. She sang a medley of Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Bruce Springsteen and Irving Berlin, among others. Man that lady can sing. The building just shook! What a talent!

-The Trojan Condom Company had a colorfully painted bus here Tuesday. And a cone-phallic shaped tent in the parking lot. Wednesday, they were gone. What did they leave early to set up in St. Paul? Weird!

-“Worst Line of the Convention Award” goes to Sen. Hillary Clinton. In her speech Tuesday night she said Barack Obama would again make America a “nation of immigrants and laws.” Was she kidding? The reason we are in this immigration mess to begin with, is: a) Congress (both parties) and the White House refuse to pass new laws; and b) Congress and the White House refuse to enforce existing laws. Immigrants are the foundation of this county (my relatives came here in the 1850’s from Ireland), but the process must be legal and orderly. What we have now is utter chaos.

-“Make Out, Not War!” – The protest group “Code Pink” was handing out these cute stickers. But, I saw no one “making out” at least not in the Pepsi Center! This might be a good thing!

-Wednesday night there was a young lady screaming and cheering over Joe Biden’s heartfelt acceptance speech. She was literally having an “out of body experience” over it. So when it was all over, I went to get a quote from her as any good reporter would. Instead I was stunned by what she told me: “I am volunteering for the convention, I am not allowed to talk to the press.” Several volunteers at Mile High Stadium told me the same thing; that the Democratic National Committee forbade them from commenting to the media. So what’s democratic about that? Chairman Howard Dean and company need to re-read the First Amendment. It’s all about free speech and free press people!

-The City of Denver and the Secret Service need to issue a public apology for the exit fiasco at Mile High Stadium after the Obama speech. All pedestrians were funneled in two directions around the stadium, only to meet at one “choke point” on a narrow bridge to the light rail station. There was only ONE exit. People were crushed together and could have been trampled. I stood right next to Joe Biden’s elderly mom (in a wheelchair) with Joe’s brother as they got crushed and jostled in the crowd. Where on Earth was their security? The Bidens and everyone else deserved better. Finally, some young men in the crowd started knocking down big sections of the security fence and thousands of people (including me) were able to climb over the concrete barriers and escape. I was glad to see my friend Willie Brown, former Mayor of San Francisco, chastise Denver in his “San Francisco Chronicle” column today over the very same issue! You go, Willie!

-That one criticism noted, Denver should be proud for hosting a wonderful event and showcasing a great American city. I’ll be back!

-The CEO of United Airlines should resign in disgrace. The fiasco at Denver’s airport Friday was inexcusable. After arriving very early, I stood in 3 separate check-in lines, for a total of 3 ½ hours, only to miss my flight. Many fellow passengers did too after an entire bus full of people was allowed to take “skips” in the curbside check-in line! United clearly did not have enough people working. Did they not know the DNC was coming to town? Amateurish, and not the friendly skies we were promised! Fly Frontier if you travel to Denver. It’s a class airline!

And now it’s on to the Twin Cities! Check in for more at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

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