The Washington Times - August 31, 2008, 05:26PM

Delegates expressed sympathy for the people of the Gulf Coast, even though the deadly hurricane headed in their direction is responsible for scaling back the GOP’s quadrennial partisan bash.

“Selfishly, it’s disappointing,” said Art Levine, an alternate delegate from Indiana. “But I support whatever [the party leaders] have to do. It’s very sad for the Gulf Coast.”

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“I feel bad for the people on the Coast who are going to get hit again,” said his wife and fellow alternate delegate, Judy Levine.

Preliminary alternative plans may include adding a fundraiser for those impacted by the hurricane.

“We need to take a look at the needs of the people in trouble,” said Mary Jo Ambrosiani, a first-time delegate from Sand Point, Idaho. “Fundraisers are good — anything we can do to help the people of Louisiana.”

But the show – at least the business part of it – must go on. Sen. John McCain and running mate Gov. Sarah Palin must be nominated to legally appear on state ballots in November.

“Absolutely,” said Bill Crocker, a Texas delegate. “We have business to take care of. We have to do that.”

Jennifer Haberkorn, reporter, The Washington Times