Pennsylvania delegates say they understand President Bush’s decision not to appear at the convention today, and they are responding to John McCain’s call to prepare to assist Gulf Coast states that are bracing for Hurricane Gustav.
The President and Vice President Cheney had been scheduled to appear as part of today’s opening events at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, but will be focused instead on Gustav, which is scheduled hit shore late this morning.
Chester County Commissioner Terence Farrell, an alternate delegate, said, “It’s a disappointment that President Bush couldn’t appear here for one final time and say farewell to so many people who have been so supportive. But, obviously, he has other duties and responsibilities and I’m glad he’s attending to them.”
Richard Stewart, a delegate from Cumberland County, agreed.
“It was appropriate for President Bush to remain at the helm … to keep an eye on the disaster that’s impending. It’s too bad that he won’t be here but the people here understand that he has to set priorities.”
Among those priorities will be providing any needed disaster relief, and the delegates are already making plans to help.
Joyce Haas of State College, vice chairman of the delegation, said that Republicans from Berks County had made arrangements for radio announcements back home asking for donations of baby items, such as diapers and wipes, for families displaced by the storm.
“Berks County did something very similar during Katrina, so they have their network all set up to go,” Haas said. Other county delegations are also working on ways to help.
"Instead of concentrating on what's happening as political, everybody's trying to think of what the needs are and how to meet those needs," Haas said. "This is a country that comes together, not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans to help others."