George Bush had been set to speak to the Republican National Convention Monday night but now that Hurricane Gustav is set to hit land as a category 4 just west of New Orleans, Bush has announced that neither he nor Dick Cheney will be going to St. Paul at all this week. Bush said he will be heading down to Houston instead, as he doesn't want his appearance in St. Paul to "impede the emergency response" to the hurricane.
Sometimes the right thing and the politically expedient thing are the same.
Update [2008-8-31 13:28:42 by Todd Beeton]:McCain is wisely using Gustav to frame himself as the anti-Bush.
"I pledge that tomorrow night and if necessary throughout our convention, we will act as Americans and not as Republicans because America needs us now," McCain said Sunday.
McCain, his wife Cindy, and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, toured the emergency management center in Mississippi, a state that could be hit hard by the approaching hurricane.
"No matter what we are Republican or Democratic America needs us to do what all Americans have always done in times of disaster and challenge," McCain told reporters.
Update [2008-8-31 13:52:25 by Todd Beeton]:I agree with Will Thomas at TPM:
I find it disturbing that McCain and Palin have decided to go down to Mississippi this week. A trip like this is worse than opportunism. Let us not forget that McCain doesn't travel alone; he brings along staff and Secret Service agents, all of whom require the time and attention of local officials. [...]
Neither McCain nor Palin offer any unique advantage to New Orleans with their presence -- they are not Southern politicians, they don't have any particularly useful contacts in the area and they aren't emergency responders.
This would be particularly tasteless if it comes to pass:
McCain was scheduled to deliver his acceptance speech Thursday but now may do so from the devastation zone if the storm hits the U.S. coast with the ferocity feared by forecasters.
Contrast this with how Barack Obama is responding (h/t vcalzone):
Sen. Obama gathered the pool outside after services at St. Luke's Lutheran Church. He told us that his camapaign plans to mobilize its huge e-mail list of supporters to volunteer or send money once the impact of Gustav becomes apparent and authorities know better what kind of help is needed. He said his campaign is coordinating with local authorities.
"We can activate an e-mail list of a couple million people who want to give back," he said. "I think we can get tons of volunteers to travel down there if it becomes necessary."
Your pooler asked him if McCain's visit now is appropriate.
His response: "A big storm like this raises bipartisan concerns and I think for John to want to find out what's going on is fine."
"The thing that I always am concerned about in the middle of a storm is whether we're drawing resources away from folks on the ground because the Secret Service and various security requirements, sometimes it pulls police, fire and other departments away from concentrating on the job."
"I'm assuming that where he went that wasn't an issue. Were going to try to stay clear of the area until things have settled down and then we'll probably try to figure out how we can be as helpful as possible."