Republicans start convention amid distractions

ST PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- The Republican Party has gaveled its 2008 presidential nominating convention to order, ready to have Sen. John McCain carry the party's banner this fall against Democrat Barack Obama.

The party stuck with its plan to proceed with the long-planned convention despite the distraction of Hurricane Gustav's strike along the Gulf Coast earlier Monday. President Bush, who had been expected to appear at the convention Monday night, called that off so he could go to Texas to monitor the storm developments.

Party chairman Robert Duncan told delegates Monday's session would be abbreviated and he urged them and people watching at home to help people whose lives have been disrupted by the hurricane. His first formal word was an explanation of how people can make donations on their cellular phones. Duncan said: "Through a simple text message, you can give help to your countrymen."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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