Revamp: Coleman, Bachmann here; Bush live from White House

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH and RICHARD MERYHEW , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 2, 2008 - 5:02 PM

Republicans moved to jump start their storm-shortened convention, rescheduling speakers and scratching some events.

Two prominent Minnesota Republicans will address delegates tonight in the first-full day of politicking at the storm-shortened Republican National Convention in St. Paul.

Also, tonight President Bush will speak to the convention via satellite with First Lady Laura Bush participating in St. Paul, party officials said this morning.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino told Fox News that Bush cannot make it to St. Paul because other powerful Gulf storms were looming behind recently departed Gustav. Perino said Bush will speak for about 7 or 8 minutes, addressing hurricane relief and praising presumptive presidential nominee John McCain.

Also, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, McCain's choice as a running mate, is "penciled in" for her speech on Wednesday night, party officials said.

Convention officials confirmed this morning that Sen. Norm Coleman and Rep. Michele Bachmann will both speak at the Xcel Energy Center tonight, sometime after 7:30 p.m. The theme of tonight's event will be "Putting Others First."

Coleman will appear as the home state's senator. And Bachmann, who has helped raise 23 foster children, will speak about foster parenting.

Rick Davis, campaign manager for Republican presidential nominee John McCain, said the decision to resume a regular schedule of events was made about 5 a.m. after convention organizers were reassured by Federal Emergency Management Agency officials that the situation in the Gulf Coast "wasn't going to get worse, but get better."

Davis said the highlight of tonight's session, which will focus on public service and which is entitled "Putting Others First," will be a brief speech by President Bush.

Also scheduled to speak tonight are Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee, a television actor who challenged McCain for the Republican nomination, and independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, a McCain friend and supporter who was the Democratic vice presidential candidate in 2000.

Thompson is "one of Senator McCain's closest friends," Davis said. Thompson will tell the nation "what makes [McCain] tick, why he is the maverick that he is" in a speech titled, 'The courage and service of John McCain,' '' Davis said.

Lieberman's speech, Davis said, is titled, "The original maverick."

Also, Capt. Shanna Hanson of the Minneapolis Fire Department and a first-responder to the Interstate 35W bridge collapse, will talk about the tragedy.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who was scheduled to speak on the opening day of the convention Monday before Republicans scaled back events due to Hurricane Gustav, is not expected to address delegates tonight.

It is unclear when he will speak.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was to be a keynote speaker tonight before Hurricane Gustav forced Republicans to revamp this week's schedule, is expected to deliver a prime-time address later this week.

Davis said that much of what will unfold on the convention floor tonight was originally scheduled for Monday night, but were pushed back because of the storm. To make room for all the major speeches later this week, he said many of the "elements" originally scheduled for today were scratched and "will be lost in the annals of convention history."

Hamstrung by Gustav and distracted by the revelation that McCain running mate Sarah Palin's unmarried 17-year-old daughter is pregnant, Republicans were trying to get back on track Tuesday.

Lieberman, who left the Democratic Party after losing a Senate primary, has angered many Democrats by criticizing their nominee, Barack Obama.

"I'm not going to spend any time tonight attacking Senator Obama," Lieberman told CNN, but he added that he will explain "why I am an independent Democrat voting for Senator McCain."

The convention seeks to reintroduce Americans to McCain and provide a high-profile introduction for Palin. The governor of Alaska for nearly two years, she is little-known outside of her state.

--The Associated Press contributed this report.

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