Thompson and Lieberman to Speak at GOP Convention

By: AP
By: AP

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Republicans say Fred Thompson and Joe Lieberman will speak on Tuesday at the Republican National Convention.

Convention organizers and John McCain's campaign adjusted the schedule of the four-day gathering with Hurricane Gustav bearing down on the Gulf Coast. The storm now has weakened. That means Republicans will resurrect their program with some changes.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani had been scheduled to give the keynote address. But Thompson and Lieberman will take the podium instead. Republicans say the two will talk about McCain's biography and their friendship with him.

Hamstrung by Hurricane Gustav and distracted by the revelation that Sarah Palin's unmarried 17-year-old daughter is pregnant, Republicans are trying to get back on track Tuesday with the political pageantry that celebrates John McCain's candidacy for president.

With Gustav downgraded to a tropical depression and evacuees looking to return to their Gulf Coast homes, the Republican National Convention eyed its own return to normal. Whether President Bush would address delegates via satellite Tuesday night had not been decided, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

One of the speakers scheduled for Tuesday night's session, independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, said he would address delegates as planned. The Democrats' vice presidential candidate in 2000 who then left the party after losing a Senate primary, Lieberman has angered many Democrats by criticizing their nominee, Barack Obama.

"I'm not going to spend any time tonight attacking Sen. Obama," Lieberman told CNN, but he added that he will explain "why I am an independent Democrat voting for Sen. McCain."

The convention seeks to reintroduce Americans to McCain and provide a high-profile introduction for his running mate. Palin, the governor of Alaska for nearly two years, is little-known outside of her state.

So far, Palin has not conducted a formal news conference or taken questions from reporters, and no such sessions were scheduled Tuesday. Her only statement Monday disclosed that her unmarried 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, was pregnant and that she would marry the baby's father.

That news was followed by the announcement that a private lawyer had been hired to represent Palin in a state investigation into her firing of the state's public safety commissioner.

"We're proud of Bristol's decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents," the statement said.

The man who led McCain's search for a vice-presidential nominee said he thought all the possible red flags unearthed during the background check had now been made public.

Under the weight of Gustav, speeches at the convention on Monday were light on red-meat rhetoric and heavy with appeals for donations to victims of the Gulf Coast storm, which was the main message in brief remarks from Laura Bush and her would-be successor, Cindy McCain.

"This is a time when we take off our Republican hats and put on our American hats," said Cindy McCain.

Added the first lady, "Our first priority for today and in the coming days is to ensure the safety and well-being of those living in the Gulf Coast region."

Obama also appealed to his supporters, asking them in a mass e-mail and text message to donate to the Red Cross. His schedule for the rest of the week was also up in the air as he returned to Chicago headquarters to monitor the storm's aftermath.

The mood on the floor as the convention began its official activities was muted and more businesslike than usual, delegates said. Some said they were eager for the politics to resume.

"If things turn out to be not so bad as we had expected, things probably will go back to a more normal agenda," said Grace Hickman, an Oklahoma delegate. "I would like for us to be able to have a more complete convention, like the Democrats had theirs, but we also have to think about the country and the people in Louisiana."

White House officials held out the possibility President Bush would make a televised address to the convention from Washington. The decision on Bush's role, if any, appeared to rest with the McCain campaign, which has tried to distance the Arizona senator from the unpopular president.

Outside the Xcel Energy Center where the convention officially began, police contended with thousands of protesters, some of whom attacked a group of Connecticut delegates.

Others smashed cars, punctured tires and threw bottles, while many marched peacefully in a gathering that was initially conceived as an anti-war demonstration. Police arrested a few protesters for lighting a trash container on fire and pushing it into a police car.

The debate about the Iraq war — a chief issue in the presidential race — was largely avoided in the Republican party platform adopted during the opening session. The platform said "the waging of war — and the achieving of peace — should never be micromanaged in a party platform. ... In dealing with present conflicts or future crises, our next president must preserve all options."

The war was likely to get a second day of attention outside the convention on Tuesday as Ron Paul, a former GOP presidential candidate who opposes the war, was expected to speak to supporters at a Minneapolis rally. Separately, a group advocating for the poor was planning a protest march toward the convention center.


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