- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 31, 2008

MINNEAPOLIS — The 2008 Republican National Convention will end Thursday, no matter what Hurricane Gustav does to Gulf Coast cities, a senior national Republican official told The Washington Times on Sunday.

“The likeliest scenario is that Gustav strikes on Monday and we hold all our business sessions but nothing else on Monday,” the official confided after participating in what he described as “high level” discussions with the planners of the convention.

If Gustav is still wreaking devastation on Wednesday and Thursday, the formal nominations of Sen. John McCain and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as will take place on national television, probably with acceptance speeches at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul across the river.

But there will not be the conventional balloon drop, said the official, who is not empowered by the convention to speak for attribution with the press.

The official noted that both Mr. McCain and Mrs. Palin are going to be with Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in Jackson and could conceivably give acceptance speeches form there or elsewhere in the Gulf states but are more likely to fly here for the speeches.

“They don’t have to be in the convention hall to accept the nominations,” he said.

All hotel rooms reservations, vendor and facilities contracts end on Thursday and many delegates could not afford to stay longer even if that were possible.