WISCONSINREPORT.COM (09/02/08 - First Lady Laura Bush and Cindy McCain addressed the opening session of the 2008 Republican National Convention at the Saint Paul Xcel Energy Center yesterday. The First Lady and Mrs. McCain's remarks focused on the ongoing relief efforts aimed at assisting the people of the Gulf Coast States. Laura Bush explained that when disasters like Hurricane Gustav take place shared American ideals will always transcend partisanship. Other speakers included Republican National Committee Chairman Robert Duncan, U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), and U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
Yesterday, 2008 Republican National Convention officials announced a scaled-back schedule for the convention's opening day as events shifted toward assisting delegates from and residents in Gulf States affected by Hurricane Gustav.
"Our first priority for today and in the coming days is to ensure the safety and well-being of those living in the Gulf Coast Region. And to all of those living in the Gulf States, please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you," First Lady Laura Bush said.
"The effect of Hurricane Gustav is just now being measured. When such events occur, we are reminded that first, we are all Americans - and that our shared American ideals will always transcend political parties and partisanship," Mrs. Bush said.
Republican presidential candidate John McCain's wife, Cindy had some words on behalf of her husband, urging that people help out in what was expected to be another disaster like the Hurricane Katrina incident of three years ago.
"I would ask that each one of us commit to join together to aid those in need as quickly as possible," Cindy McCain said.
"As John has been saying for the last several days, this is a time when we take off our Republican hats and put on our American hats," she pointed out.
"We are Republicans,but, more importantly we are proud Americans" Republican National Committee Chairman Robert M. "Mike" Duncan said.
"As one nation under God, we come together with prayerful hearts for our country. As we gather in Minnesota, a great storm afflicts our country. And, when one of us is threatened, we are all threatened," Duncan said.
"As Americans we rise to the challenge. We unite, we respond. We take care of our own," Republican National Committee Chairman Duncan said.
Steps the convention has taken include the formation of the Affected States Working Group and the establishment of an Affected States Information Center.
The 2008 Republican National Convention was scheduled to be held at Saint Paul's Xcel Energy Center from Sept. 1-4, 2008.
Approximately 45,000 delegates, alternate delegates, volunteers, members of the media and other guests are expected to attend the convention.
Minneapolis-Saint Paul is expected to receive an estimated $150-$160 million positive economic boost from the four-day event.