Following a Gustav-inspired delay, the Republican convention announced it would go on the air Tuesday night with a prime-time series of speeches by former Sen. Fred Thompson and 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Joe Lieberman.
For the McCain campaign, they will seek to recover from a lost first night where instead of focusing on a GOP-crafted message, the bulk of television reporting on the Republicans focused on news of vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s daughter’s pregnancy.
“Obviously we lost a lot of opportunity to communicate our message last night,” campaign chair Rick Davis told reporters Tuesday morning. “We tried to modify the program this morning to include those elements. A lot of the events schedule for Monday will be on Tuesday.”
That schedule included a heavy focus on McCain’s personal story, including a speech by Orson Swindle, a POW imprisoned in Vietnam with McCain, and a profile of a child the McCains brought to America when they adopted their own daughter.
Davis added he was urging broadcasters to expand their coverage of the convention given the day lost due to concern about Hurricane Gustav’s landfall.
The government’s concerns about the storm kept President Bush away from the convention in St. Paul, but the president did plan to speak to the delegation via video from the White House.
Organizers said they believed the president’s remarks, which are scheduled to occur early in the evening, when most broadcasters are not live with their convention coverage, fit in the general theme of Tuesday’s program, which is service.
But it will be Thompson and Lieberman who headline the night.
Thompson, who mounted an unsuccessful run for the presidency this year and has had a successful career as an actor, will speak about McCain’s personal story of “courage” and “service” highlighting his imprisonment in Vietnam, his military career and legislative record.
“Fred Thompson, one of John McCain’s closest friends, a long-time ally, will tell a story about John McCain, what makes him tick,” Davis said, “Why is he the maverick that he is? What is it to voters that make him a good future president?”
The evening ends with Joe Lieberman, the moderate Connecticut senator whose support for McCain and the president’s policies in Iraq forced a wedge between him and the Democrats.
Lieberman, who has endorsed McCain and actively campaigned for him, will discuss McCain’s role in Washington, dubbing him “the original maverick.”