Sept. 2, 2008, 1:30 p.m. EDT ST. PAUL, Minn. - Hurricane Gustav forced some of the biggest stars in the Republican Party to stay at home to help their consitutents battle the storm that many feared would rival Hurricane Katrina of just three years ago.
But four of the five affected southern Republican governors addressed the opening session of the 2008 Republican National Convention Monday (Sept. 1) via taped messages. "I'm sure you can understand why Gov. Jindal couldn't participate," first lady Laura Bush said as she introduced the taped messages, referring to Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal as his state was being pounded by Gustav's strong winds and rain.
Jindal had been rumored to be, among others, on Republican John McCain's shortlist of possible vice presidential picks before the senator chose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
President Bush had been scheduled to address the delegates Monday but instead went to Texas to monitor the storm. The administration had been widely criticized for its handling of Hurricane Katrina. Some Republicans, notably Texas Gov. Rick Perry, stressed that the GOP was ready. "You're seeing Republican governors ... doing a fabulous job of taking care of the citizens. That's what we do," he said via videotape.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Hurricane Gustav
The first lady also noted the governors of the affected states "happen to be Republicans," which drew a thunderous applause from the delegates at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Florida Charlie Crist, another Republican governor who also was seen as a possible VP candidate, took a less partisan approach in his remarks, remembering his experience during last month's Tropical Storm Fay:
"As I traveled our state in the days following Fay's landfall, I was reminded again of the resilience and strength of our people. The kindness they extend to one another. Neighbor helping neighbor. Asking not what party you are, but instead how you can help."
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist on Hurricane Gustav
Alabama Gov. Bob Riley and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour also gave videotaped messages.
Alabama Gov. Bob Riley on Hurricane Gustav
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour on Hurricane Gustav
Governor Jindal said Monday that seven states are helping Louisiana to shelter more than 29,000 citizens at 107 shelters. Texas has offered to shelter several thousand patients, Oklahoma has agreed to accept 4,000 general evacuees, and 150 medical patients from southwest Louisiana hospitals are expected to arrive at the Oklahoma Air National Guard Base at Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City today.
The state Republican chairmen from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas formed a working group "to regularly brief their delegates and convention planners, provide access to timely information and assistance, and give input on appropriate steps that can be taken from Minnesota."
The McCain 2008 campaign also agreed to charter a DC-9 to transport delegates who wished to return to home to their states.