Eclipsed by Gustav, GOP Convention Begins

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ST. PAUL, Minnesota - Gustav has also put the brakes on the Republican National Convention.

Now officials here at the Xcel Center are scrambling to figure out how they're going to pull this convention off.

It's certain that Monday will be just a couple hours of "essential business only."

In other words, there will be no speakers and fanfare - just items like adopting of the rules and platform. Essentially it will be dark up here Monday and John McCain wants it that way. "I know you'll agree with me," McCain said. "It's time to open our hearts, our efforts and our wallets, our concern, our care, for those American citizens who are now under the shadow and the possibility of a natural disaster."

He said, "This is a time when we have to do away with our party politics and we have to act as Americans."

After a slow response to Hurricane Katrina, the GOP is especially skittish with Gustav.

They are taking no chances of looking insensitive. Instead, delegates will find a convention transformed from celebration to service.

"We've asked that all of their activities reflect how John McCain would like to see things go. We're looking at some service oriented activities potentially food drives or charity activities. We're still in the planning stages of that. This is a very fluid and dynamic situation," senior McCain advisor Adam Mendelsohn said.

So on this first day we see scenes of delegates leaving - not arriving. McCain's campaign chartered a jet to fly Louisiana and Mississippi delegates back to their states.

All of the hurricane related developments have removed the spotlight - at least for the next few days - from McCain's vice-presidential pick, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

Top evangelical leaders tell CBN News that they are downright giddy and elated at the pick. They say she will be a game changer when it comes to evangelical support for McCain.

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