Gustav forces change of plans

GUSTAV FORCES CHANGE OF PLANS…. Not surprisingly, with Hurricane Gustav barreling down on the Gulf Coast, both President Bush and Vice President Cheney have cancelled their scheduled appearances at the Republican National Convention.

Also, John McCain told reporters earlier that the convention schedule will be altered, and the RNC is scheduled to host a press briefing at 4 p.m. eastern at the Xcel Energy Center with a revised schedule for the event.

The Obama campaign, meanwhile, has said both Obama and Biden would steer clear the area, so as to avoid increasing the burden on local officials, and will instead mobilize campaign supporters to help areas damaged by the storm.

Senator Barack Obama said Sunday that his campaign would mobilize its giant email list of supporters – to volunteer or send contributions – as soon as the impact of Hurricane Gustav becomes known in the Gulf Coast.

“We can activate an email list of a couple million people who want to give back,” Mr. Obama told reporters after leaving services at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Lima. “I think we can get tons of volunteers to travel down there if it becomes necessary.”

Mr. Obama has made no plans to travel to the Gulf Coast, saying he does not want to get in the way of emergency efforts there, but he has spoken by telephone to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin.

Mr. Obama conducted telephone interviews with four TV stations and a news-talk radio station in New Orleans, aides said, amplifying the warning for any remaining residents to follow the evacuation order and leave the city.

No official word, as of yet, on whether McCain will deliver his acceptance speech “from the devastation zone,” as earlier reports indicated.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.