The few demonstrators were low keyed
ST. PAUL - Concern that conducting a convention with the usual political rhetoric would be viewed as unseemly while fellow Americans are battening down the hatches and fleeing Hurricane Gustov, officials here have decided to curtail Republican National Convention activities tomorrow.
After months of planning and spending untold amounts of money to put on a show to rival the Democratic National Convention, the Republican Party has elected to only conduct serious, necessary convention business for a couple hours tomorrow. No partisan political speeches will be permitted.
What activities will be held on the ensuing days of the convention will be decided on a day by day basis.
President Bush and Vice-President Cheney have canceled their scheduled appearances here tomorrow in order to concentrate on the natural disaster bearing down on Louisiana.
GOP officials say they may use the convention as a forum to raise money for relief efforts.
Meanwhile, things are decidedly low keyed outside the Xcel Center here. Delegates, reporters, protesters and locals mingled on the serene streets of St. Paul. Police are out in force but I've seen no confrontations, though a left wing blogger is reporting arrests of 9 people, including a nun, earlier today. I've seen but a few people out making political or religious statements. One man, a biker from Alaska, was reading from the Bible and calling for a vote for Jesus Christ (I interviewed him at the Democratic National Convention as well). Another two opposing a continuation of "Bush-McCain" policies. A third claiming the 9/11 attacks were an inside job.
But we haven't yet seen mass numbers of demonstrators here as we did in Denver for the Democratic convention. News photographers have taken to making scenic pictures of picturesque St. Paul. Perhaps for their publications. Perhaps to take home for their photo albums.
Many of the locals, exhibiting true Midwestern charm, have been approaching delegates and reporters welcoming us into town. These aren't convention volunteers, but residents who truly appreciate our presence and are hoping that we enjoy our stays.
Political correspondent Alan Jasie and I, like the other reporters here, became tourists. Walking the St. Paul streets. Stopping for a bite to eat. And visiting, among other attractions, the State Capital and the Cathedral of St. Paul.
Preparations are in place outside the Capital Building for what is expected to be a massive protest march tomorrow. Police are hoping that the demonstrators, keeping in the spirit of the moment, showing respect and concern for the people in Gustav's path, will march and rally peacefully.
Meanwhile, tomorrow's News Talk Online on Paltalk coverage will adjust to the changing focus. Alan and I will recap the few items of business the Republicans will handle at the convention. Then direct our attention to Hurricane Gustav. We are expecting reports live from Louisiana and Texas.
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Photo credit: Gary Baumgarten