Officials from the Republican National Convention and the presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain have announced that they will suspend most of their convention program for Monday, conducting only official business required to start the event.
McCain campaign manager Rick Davis said that the campaign was not making any commitments beyond 5:30 p.m. CT tomorrow, and that future plans would hinge on the impact of Hurricane Gustav, which was expected to make landfall on the Gulf Coast on Monday.
There were to be no political speeches on the first day of the convention, to be held in St. Paul, Minn.
Davis said the campaign hoped all convention speakers would get to speak at some point but that the convention would feature only official business, with no "political rhetoric."
The McCain campaign will extend a request to all the convention participants inside and outside the hall to participate in a fundraising effort for the Gulf Coast, Davis said.
Speaking from Mississippi, where he was meeting with the governor, John McCain told reporters at the convention via satellite that it was not the time for politics. "We have to do away with our party politics and be Americans," the soon-to-be Republican presidential nominee said.
Davis would not commit to saying whether McCain would be in St. Paul this week. "If conditions allow we would love to have him here," Davis said.
McCain said earlier in the day that the Republican National Convention must change its plans in light of the threat from hurricane.
"We must redirect our efforts from the really celebratory event of the nomination of president and vice president of our party to acting as all Americans," McCain said.
McCain and the Republican Party are anxious not to appear complacent in the face of the storm after President George W. Bush was roundly criticized for a slow response to Hurricane Katrina when that storm hit the Gulf Coast three years ago.
Today, McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, toured an emergency operations center in Jackson, Miss., to learn about that state's preparations for the storm.
And Bush announced that he, too, would travel to the anticipated impact zone -- heading Monday to Texas and then Louisiana as conditions permit -- to monitor the emergency response to the storm. Earlier, the White House announced Bush would not be speaking Monday evening at the convention in St. Paul, as previously scheduled.
McCain today called on people from both parties to come together and serve after the hurricane.
"There's very little doubt," McCain said, "that we have to go from a party event to call on the nation for action -- action to help our fellow citizens in this time of tragedy and disaster, action in the form of volunteering, donations, reaching out our hands and our hearts and our wallets to the people who are under such a great threat from this great natural disaster."
Florida Republican Party chairman Jim Greer told ABC News that postponing the RNC was not under consideration but that the party was discussions altering the convention program.
As McCain wrapped up a meeting with Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, campaign officials said that the senator would confer with campaign manager Rick Davis and others in St. Paul, Minn., to decide whether and how to reshape the convention.