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Gustav Prompts Tx Republicans to Change Plans

By Shelley Kofler, KERA News

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kera/local-kera-752909.mp3

Dallas, TX – Texas Governor Rick Perry and President George Bush skipped the Republican National Convention to be in Austin when Hurricane Gustav made landfall. The hurricane has altered plans for all of the Texas delegates attending the convention. KERA's Shelley Kofler takes a look at why the party shifted gears.

Texas delegates had planned on a four-day pep rally that would provide a boost to the McCain-Palin Presidential ticket. But Hurricane Gustav has prompted convention officials to cancel much of the revelry and focus on the hurricane's potential savagery instead.

Hans Klingler, the communications director for the Texas Republican Party, says Republicans want Americans to know they understand the impact Gustav is having on millions of coastal residents.

Hans: He says Republicans don't want to be an impediment to emergency workers on the front lines.

SMU political science professor Cal Jillson says Gustav dredges up one of the Bush administration's greatest failures, Katrina, and the President's political party needs voters to believe their leaders can handle a natural disaster.

Jillson: The most important thing that hurricane does is it brings attention back to Katrina and the difficulties New Orleans is still experiencing 2 and 3 years after Katrina leveled that city the republican party and the Bush administration in particular do not want the specter of Katrina haunting their convention.

Chief among Texans who have changed plans because of the hurricane is Governor Perry who was scheduled for a prime time convention appearance this Labor Day. He was instead in Austin, briefing another Texan, President George Bush. Bush visited Texas' Emergency Command Post, a high-tech communications center 30 feet underground. He observed the response to Gustav from there. Because of the hurricane KERA's reports from Texas delegates at the GOP convention will be postponed.