Gustav: Risks, Rewards for GOP

McCain appears presidential; Repubs, compassionate
By Jess Kilby,  Newser User
Posted Sep 1, 2008 7:34 AM CDT
A stagehand vacuums the stage as preparations are underway for the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., Sunday, Aug. 31, 2008.    (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – For Republicans, the challenge of Hurricane Gustav's disruption of the party convention is to use it to their advantage without looking like political opportunists, writes Susan Page in USA Today. The cancellation of today's events offers risks and rewards—on the one hand, the loss of an evening of prime-time television; on the other, the chance to position McCain as presidential and the party as compassionate.

"They're giving up a major opportunity," says Dem pollster Celinda Lake. "At the same time, they're playing for an audacious credentialing." McCain has distanced himself from Bush’s bungled Katrina response by touring the hurricane zone in advance and appraising the government’s readiness to handle the worst. But the most valuable benefit for the GOP, notes Peter Baker in the New York Times, may be President Bush—himself looking for a do-over on Katrina—pulling out of what was to be the opening night speech.