Democrats Suspend "War Room" Operations

By: AP
By: AP

ST. PAUL - Democrats in town to staff an aggressive "war room" operation during the GOP convention have instead laid down their arms as Hurricane Gustav bears down on the Gulf Coast.

Republicans announced a dramatic rewrite Sunday of their convention script, dropping political speeches from Monday's program. So, Democrats are responding in kind.

A Sunday media tour of the party's operation in St. Paul that was to have featured Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar was abruptly canceled.

And with the cancellation of Monday's convention appearances by President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, Democrats shelved a "More of the Same" rally that was to have featured hundreds of protesters. A news event featuring Reps. Chet Edwards, D-Texas, and Hilda Solis, D-Calif., was also canceled.

A small squadron of Democratic aides had prepared for an aggressive war room operation featuring surrogates such as Klobuchar, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, and Edwards to offer the Democratic counter-convention narrative.

The Democratic effort follows an aggressive week by GOP operatives in Denver. They successfully thrust themselves into the convention story line by introducing new television ads daily, circulating top GOP officeholders among cable and network news outlets and zapping reporters with quick reaction to each evening's convention program.

Rick Davis, campaign manager for John McCain, said Sunday that future decisions about the convention program would be made on a day-to-day basis. Democrats say they'll be ready to hit back when and if the convention returns to normal.

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