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Republicans To Resume Planned National Convention Activities


Republican officials say their party's national convention is back on track with a full schedule Tuesday, after Monday's planned activities were curtailed due to Hurricane Gustav and fears of its impact on the US Gulf Coast. From St. Paul, Minnesota, which is hosting the four-day Republican gathering, VOA's Michael Bowman reports.

The storm was not as severe as feared, and with Gulf Coast evacuees already eager to return to their homes, Republican officials have announced a resumption of normal convention activities. The day's highlights include a remote satellite address by President Bush. Also scheduled to speak are independent Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman, whom presumptive presidential nominee John McCain had reportedly considered as a potential running mate, and former Republican presidential hopeful and actor Fred Thompson.

In a conference call with reporters, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis said convention speakers will address the senator's biography and character, focusing on his history of service and sacrifice to the nation, and his reputation as a political maverick. Davis said one segment will feature a testimonial of McCain's years spent as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War.

"Orson Swindell, one of John McCain's trail mates, if you want to call it that, in a POW camp during the Vietnam War," he said. "He will recognize certain people in the audience who also sustained great valor under difficult circumstances [other prisoners of war]."

The evening will also pay tribute to precautions taken ahead of Hurricane Gustav, and urge continued efforts to help the Gulf Coast recover from the storm. Delegates are being encouraged to help put together 80,000 care packages for those affected by the hurricane.

Monday, the convention was stripped of all major partisan speeches. First Lady Laura Bush and Senator McCain's wife, Cindy, gave brief remarks, focused on relief efforts for the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The convention concludes Thursday, when McCain is expected to give his speech accepting the Republican Party's presidential nomination. On Wednesday, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, McCain's choice for the vice presidential slot, is tentatively scheduled to speak. She was relatively unknown before McCain announced just last week that he had chosen her as his running mate.

On Monday, Palin announced that her 17-year-old daughter, who is unmarried, is pregnant. Palin, a social conservative and opponent of abortion, issued a statement saying she is proud of her daughter, who will marry the father of the baby.

Delegates to the convention seemed unfazed by the change in program on Monday, and embraced the Republican Party's call to focus their attention on helping to secure aid for those affected by the hurricane. The McCain campaign reports a spike in fundraising in recent days, suggesting enthusiasm for the convention and the choice of Palin as his running mate.