— Advisers say McCain will go to Mississippi today at the invitation of
the governor to be briefed on plans for Gustav, NBC's Kelly O'Donnell
reports. These advisers say McCain has talked to Secretary Chertoff and
governors Barbour, Riley, Jindal, and Crist. They also say amid
contingency planning for the convention, "the gavel will come down" and
"business will be done" but "we are not having a party."
Per NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli, Obama yesterday called the threat posed by
Hurricane Gustav "a very serious situation," and Joe Biden warned that
the storm could be worse than Katrina, as the two running mates warned
residents of the Gulf Coast to heed all warnings. "Even if you've
ridden out this storm before, even if you think that it may pass over,
even if you think that you can wait until last minute, this is going to
be, potentially, very, very serious," Obama told reporters after a
campaign event in Dublin, OH. "For your own safety and your family's
safety, people have to follow the instructions of the officials there
to make sure that this evacuation is going smoothly."
Obama said he and Biden had spoken with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal,
FEMA director Hank Paulson, Sen. Mary Landrieu, and New Orleans Mayor
Ray Nagin. Biden said that because the eastern, more powerful half of
the storm may pass over New Orleans, the impact could be more severe
than Katrina's. "Those folks who rode out, do not ride out again --
ride out of town," he said. "
With the storm forecast showing it could make landfall just as the
Republican National Convention is set to begin, Obama was asked if he
thought President Bush should still attend. He said he didn't "want to
weigh into the White House decision-making," and said the priority has
to be on monitoring efforts on the ground closely. He also said he did
not want to be a "distraction" himself when asked if he would visit the
region. "I will do whatever is required that is useful but right now
the main thing that's useful us letting everyone evacuate out there
now; please evacuate the area," he said.
The Los Angeles Times
says Gustav "is predicted to make landfall west of New Orleans as early
as Monday, just days after the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
But National Weather Service officials cautioned that the hurricane's
path could shift and that it could strike anywhere from Texas to
Florida in the next few days. Apart from humanitarian concerns, the
GOP's image-makers are mindful of the public relations and political
cost if the party appears to be partying in Minnesota while Americans
are battling to survive a devastating hurricane."
"You know it just wouldn't be appropriate to have a festive occasion while a near tragedy or a terrible challenge is presented in the form of a natural disaster, so we're monitoring it from day to day and I'm saying a few prayers, too," McCain said.
The news that Bush isn't expected to attend the GOP convention comes at the same time as a New York Times Magazine piece notes the friction between the Bush and McCain camps. "Anxious denizens of Bushworld worry that McCain will beat himself and in the process take down their best chance for deliverance when it comes to the verdict of history. One former Bush aide who spends his days publicly bashing Barack Obama sat down for lunch with me recently and before the appetizers even arrived lamented that the Democrat will probably crush McCain. He ruefully called Obama one of the three most talented political figures of his lifetime, along with John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. Bush's political guru, Karl Rove, in conversations with friends this summer, could hardly restrain his exasperation at what he saw as the McCain team's dysfunctional organization and sclerotic message. And the president himself … privately rails about what he considers McCain's undisciplined approach to the campaign and grouses about McCain's efforts to distance himself from the administration."
More: McCain has not called the president for advice, so Bush vents his frustrations and criticisms of Obama during phone calls and get-togethers with current and former advisers. (He and Rove still meet for lunch every few weeks.) They say that the elevation of some veterans from their team, like Steve Schmidt and Nicolle Wallace, to key positions within the campaign is making a difference, and there have been signs lately that more order has been imposed on the operation. People in both the McCain and Bush camps take heart in polls showing a closer race than many initially expected. But longstanding suspicions are hard to overcome. 'You've got a lot of people in that campaign who really dislike the president,' a McCain insider said. 'There's still a lot of people who carry a torch for the 2000 campaign.' Among them, members of the McCain camp say, is the candidate's wife, Cindy, who remains bitter over the personal attacks on her family eight years ago."