By Elyce Taylor
8/31/08

John McCain’s next move is critical. Monday is supposed to be the
uplifting kickoff for his party’s convention. But now the Republican
nominee’s Presidential campaign agenda has been overshadowed by the
fast approach of Hurricane Gustav toward the Gulf Coast. All eyes are
on Senator McCain as painful memories of Hurricane Katrina’s
devastation linger in Americans’ minds. He has to prove he will do
more than the Bush White House did on behalf of Gulf Coast residents
before and after the storm hits.
 
McCain and his
running mate Alaska Governor Sarah Palin changed their campaign plans
and quickly went down south.  They have met Mississippi Governor
Haley Barbour. McCain has also spoken by phone with Governors Bobby
Jindal of Louisiana, Charlie Crist of Florida, and Bob Riley of
Alabama.
 
Now McCain and other GOP leaders are trying
to decide what to do with their convention plans.  They have
indicated that having a celebratory convention while millions flee
their homes seems inappropriate.  So a RNC senior organizer says
they may turn it into a mass telethon where people can donate money in
support of storm victims.
 
Meanwhile Vice President
Dick Cheney and First Lady Laura Bush are still expected to speak on
Monday in St. Paul, Minnesota at the convention. President Bush is
expected not to speak in person but instead be on a satellite feed
into the hall. Whatever form the convention takes on in the upcoming
days, McCain and his camp seem forced to prove his leadership power.