Republicans meeting at their national convention in St. Paul, Minn. hope to get back on track today. The party scratched last night's proceedings and has held off attacking Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama because of Hurricane Gustav. KPCC's Frank Stoltze told Morning Edition host Steve Julian Republicans are resuming a normal schedule today.
Frank Stoltze: Steve, we just heard President Bush will address the convention today, by satellite. He was scheduled to talk last night in person. So, some semblance of a regular schedule today. Also today, former Tennessee and ex-preidential candidate senator Fred Thompson, and Democratic senator turned independent Joe Lieberman. He, of course, was Al Gore's running mate in 2000.
So, with the hurricane over, we're likely going to hear a return to politics here in St. Paul with attacks on Democratic nominee Barack Obama. Last night, by the way, Cindy McCain, the wife of presumptive Republican nominee John McCain, and Laura Bush addressed the convention briefly. They both just basically called on delegates to donate to hurricane victims.
Julian: The California delegation, Frank, that you've been speaking with, is light on elected officials, with Governor Schwarzenegger and state legislators stuck in that budget stalemate in Sacramento. But one congressman from Southern California has played a pretty prominent role so far in St. Paul.
Stoltze: That's right. Congressman Kevin McCarthy, who represents much of San Luis Obispo and Kern Counties, is the chairman of the platform committee. He formally presented that platform yesterday. McCarthy is considered an up and comer in the party, and he told me he's part of a group of Republicans looking to build the GOP.
Congressman Kevin McCarthy: There's a group called "Young Guns" that we're going across this country. We're getting candidates to challenge Democrats. We believe we can win the majority.
Stoltze: What issues are those "Young Guns" going to talk about and emphasize?
McCarthy: Well, we're going to talk about energy independence. About drilling in America, nuclear, solar, wind, clean coal. And then we're also going to talk about the economy, letting people keep more of what they earn.
Stoltze: You'll note he left out social issues like abortion and gay rights, Steve. Some in the Republican Party feel the party has focused too much on social issues and alienated some voters.
Julian: I heard yesterday you were covering some demonstrations outside the Xcel Center, Frank. That, one that included the arrests of several people. What happened?
Stoltze: Police say someone threw a rock through the window of a bus carrying the Alabama delegation, that a few people also threw water mixed with bleach at a couple of other delegates. Also some scattered vandalism, all of it resulting in more than 250 arrests. There've also been concerns, though, that police have been heavy handed.
They detained several journalists, including Pacifica Radio talk show host Amy Goodman and two of her producers. Tighe Barry is with the anti-war group Code Pink. He lives in Santa Monica and works as a prop man in film and TV. He traveled to both Denver and St. Paul to participate in protests.
Tighe Barry: I think the police always seem to be the aggressors in these kind of protests. They kind of escalate things. But I gotta tell you, in Denver, at the DNC, they were much more present.
They were very much more present. I'm waiting to see if they come out more and more here in Minneapolis. But we have a lot less protestors here in Minneapolis than we did in Denver.
Stoltze: Still, as is now the custom at political conventions and other major events, there's a big, and somewhat intimidating police presence here, Steve. Hundreds of police in riot helmets, body armor, and carrying machine guns are in the streets every day.
Julian: All right, Frank. Thanks very much. We appreciate the update.
Stoltze: Thank you, Steve.