Grand Old Party-Poopers
By Pauline Vu, Staff Writer
At least six of Republicans' 22 governors will be AWOL as a result of natural disasters and political battles, some giving up high-profile speaking roles at the Republican National Convention.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is staying home with an overdue budget. Originally invited to speak Monday night, he signaled weeks ago that he would stay in California until he and the Democratic-controlled Legislature agree on how to close a $15.2 billion deficit. The budget is now 64 days late, with no resolution yet in sight .
Four Gulf Coast governors - Alabama's Bob Riley, Florida's Charlie Crist, Mississippi's Haley Barbour and Texas' Rick Perry - also skipped the convention to tend to their states while Hurricane Gustav hit. All four addressed the convention via satellite on Monday. Perry had been slated to speak Monday. Crist is scheduled to speak Thursday during prime time; he said that if he does speak, it will be from Florida.
Instead of partying with delegates, Crist and Riley- whose states escaped much of Gustav's fury - ended up visiting hurricane evacuees who took refuge in their states. Crist even helped serve orange juice.
Another high-profile no-show is Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal , who would have addressed the convention during prime time Wednesday if Gustav hadn't headed for New Orleans, where the storm caused less devastation than feared. He would have been the first person of Indian descent to address a national convention of an American political party.
The collision of hurricane season with political convention season has led to other governors going missing in action - the most notable in 2004, when then-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush skipped his brother's nominating convention to deal with the destruction left by Hurricane Charley.