Bush, First Lady, Lieberman, Thompson Headline Day

Posted September 2, 2008 at 11:27am

The Republican National Convention is back on track after Hurricane Gustav wiped out the opening night, with President Bush, first lady Laura Bush, Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) and former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) scheduled to speak Tuesday night as the convention focus shifts back to nominating Sen. John McCain (Ariz.).

President Bush is expected to briefly address the delegates in a video feed from the White House after returning from a trip to the Gulf Coast, followed by a short address from Laura Bush, who also appeared briefly Monday to urge support for hurricane victims.

The prime hour of the convention will feature Thompson, one of McCain’s best friends in the Senate, “telling a story about what makes him tick.”

Lieberman will then cap the night with a speech titled “The Original Maverick” that will talk about McCain and “American exceptionalism.”

Much of the originally planned Monday schedule will be shifted to today, with much of the Tuesday schedule being lost to the “annals of convention history,” McCain campaign manager Rick Davis said.

Some of the major speakers planned for Tuesday will be shifted until later in the week, but plans for Wednesday and Thursday were still being discussed as the McCain campaign is pleading with networks to eke out additional coverage.

“Obviously we lost a lot of opportunities to communicate messages last night,” Davis said.

Campaign officials decided to go forward with the second day after getting reports from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Louisiana officials that the worst of the storm had passed and that the levees in New Orleans appeared to be holding. But Davis said they will continue to be talking about public service and had already raised millions of dollars for relief efforts at Monday’s events and through phone banking party donors.

“We continue to be respectful of the situation in the Gulf, and continue to make that a central theme,” Davis said.

Convention delegates and donors are expected to volunteer time packing supplies intended for the Gulf Coast on Wednesday and Thursday.

Among the other highlights expected today, Davis said, is a segment on the McCains’ adopted Bangladeshi daughter, an appearance by one of McCain’s cellmates in Vietnam who will point out other veterans in the audience, and a video featuring Medal of Honor recipients.

Cindy McCain will speak later in the week, but the timing will depend on the network schedule, Davis said.

“We are having some conversations with the networks, and will try and expand time, which will dictate when people get placement,” he said.

Davis also said that vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin (R) of Alaska will address the convention Wednesday night but declined to say whether she would address the swirl of stories surrounding her selection, which range from reports that she had supported the “Bridge to Nowhere” and other earmarks to her teenage daughter’s pregnancy.

“It is a unique opportunity,” Davis said. “It’s a chance for her to go out and tell her story and get past some of the media fog.”

Davis said Palin has been a hit in Internet fundraising, with the campaign picking up $8 million in three days.