ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Florida delegation to the Republican National Convention has canceled its Thursday post-nomination party and has pledged to donate the funds for the party to the Red Cross and local charities assisting hurricane victims.
"Florida has certainly experienced the events these other states are experiencing," state party Chairman Jim Greer said. "We sympathize with them because we've been there many times."
With Hurricane Gustav bearing down on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, Republicans here are grappling with how to balance what's appropriate with what they need to do politically at their quadrennial convention.
For the first time in political memory, the convention will be curtailed so as not to distract from emergency preparedness and response efforts, Republicans announced Sunday afternoon.
Mr. Greer said the decision to cancel the party was made Sunday morning, even before Sen. John McCain and national Republican Party officials decided to curtail Monday's opening session of the convention.
Instead of speeches by President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and others, Monday's session will involve nothing but the business required by party rules, which say the convention must be gaveled open Sept. 1.
"We take off our Republican hats and put on our American hats, and we say America, we're with you, America, we're going to care for these people in their time of need," Mr. McCain told reporters in explaining the decision.
McCain campaign manager Rick Davis told reporters they are not asking state delegations and others planning parties here to cancel their events, but he said they want people to consider taking up donations to help victims of Hurricane Gustav, which is bearing down on the Gulf Coast.
Mr. Greer said the donation will come to about $25,000. Florida's Monday delegation breakfast will also be changed to be a non-denominational prayer breakfast.
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