Republican delegates say they still have important business to do at RNCby Annie Baxter, Minnesota Public Radio
Delegates from Gulf Coast states, in Hurricane Gustav's path, had busy weekends balancing responsibilities to family with preparations for the Republican National Convention. With the storm on track to hit landfall tomorrow, some delegates are having to make additional preparations.
St. Paul, Minn. — Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain offered to fly delegates home to Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and other states on a chartered plane Sunday. Some welcomed the chance.
I have four children and I left them for the week with my 84 year old mother in law," said Rhett Davis, a former Executive Director of the Republican Party of Louisiana. "My wife and I are here."
Davis' wife Vicki is a delegate. When reached Sunday afternoon, he said he and his wife were concerned about their kids and that he had intended to fly home to Baton Rouge Sunday to stay with them, but plans changed after McCain's announcement.
Then I heard that the McCain campaign was sending a plane home, and I asked if this plane was going to come back and if it was round trip, and they said yes," Davis said. "So I asked if I could get my mother-in-law and children on the plane, and they very kindly said that would be fine."
Davis said he would retrieve his kids and mother-in-law and bring them back to Minnesota.
But other delegates were trying to plan for any potential disasters from afar.
"I don't know what I'd be doing back home," said delegate Jay Batt, from New Orleans.
Batt said his wife and kids are out of harm's way and are staying in Georgia. He's on the phone with his wife constantly, and he rues his absence at a time like this.
Batt estimates that three or four of his fellow delegates were indeed taking advantage of the chance to fly home. He had the impression most felt compelled to show their faces to constituents, if they held public office
Despite how tough the impending storm is making things for many people, Batt insists on the importance of carrying on with the business of the convention.
"If we were to go ahead and postpone or cancel every time there was some type of calamity in our country, we wouldn't get much done," Batt said. "I think the governor of our state and now President Bush has done what needs to be done and be prepared for the situation."
Robyn Armstrong, a delegate from the Gulf Coast state of Texas agrees. Armstrong was reached while still in Friendswood, Texas. He planned to travel to the Twin Cities on Monday and said if it looked like the storm was headed toward Texas, he would bring his family with him. Armstrong said delaying the convention at this point would be impractical, given that tens of thousands of people are already in place.
"There is business that has to be done," Armstrong said. "John McCain has to be officially placed into nomination and accept that nomination. Sarah Palin has to be placed into nomination and accept that nomination. So that has to happen. That's the business of the convention that has to take place, so I don't know how you shut the whole thing down."
But Louisiana state representative and RNC delegate Nickie Monica would be glad to see the whole convention postponed so that hurricane victims and John McCain can get the focus they deserve.
"I wanted Senator McCain and the republicans to get as much attention as Barack Obama got," Monica said. "And with everyone focused on Louisiana, it has just taken a little bit of the spotlight off of the convention."
Monica stayed behind in Louisiana as Gustav approaches and dispatched his wife and five kids to a hotel in north Mississippi. He said if the storm's effects turn out to be less dramatic than expected, he hopes to make it up to the Twin Cities later this week.
In the meantime, he's glad to hear that RNC activities for today have been scaled back.
- Morning Edition, 09/01/2008, 7:21 a.m.