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La. Delegates React to Delay of GOP Convention

Some Louisiana RNC delegates flew home on a chartered plane Sunday to help family with evacuation efforts. The NewsHour talks to Louisiana delegates about attending the convention as Gustav threatens.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Thank you, Judy.

    It has been a long day for both the first lady and Cindy McCain. They had breakfast with the Louisiana delegation, and special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro was there.

    CINDY MCCAIN, wife of Sen. John McCain: May I introduce to you the first lady of the United States, Mrs. Bush.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO, NewsHour correspondent: It was a surprise uplifting start for the day for the Louisiana delegation, many with family members and friends in the path of the hurricane.

    The chairman of the delegation, Brian Wagner, began the morning on an optimistic note.

    BRIAN WAGNER, chair, Louisiana delegation: Gustav has kind of rained on our parade a little bit, but I want you to know that my hardest cheering, because the wonderful things that the McCain people have done and the convention has done for the people in Louisiana, and Texas, and Mississippi, and Alabama, just makes our heart sing.

  • FRED DE SAM LAZARO:

    That tone was echoed by former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer.

    FORMER GOV. BUDDY ROEMER (R), La.: The early returns from Louisiana are good, to put it in political terms, but they're just early. I've won and lost elections in the last hour, and the same thing is true with hurricanes. It's not over until it's over.

    And often the greatest danger and damage is inland, far away from the coastline. It's 18 inches of rain in five hours; it's a road that can't stand anymore; it's a bridge that tumbles. So we're a room filled with anxiety and hope.

  • FRED DE SAM LAZARO:

    The center of attention, however, was Rhett and Vickie Davis' family. The McCain campaign flew Rhett Davis and about a dozen other delegates home on a chartered plane. He returned with the family's three children and his mother-in-law.

    Vickie Davis said she was grateful for the gesture.

    VICKIE DAVIS, Louisiana delegate: John McCain, he's our hero. He just saved the day. He sent the plane and brought them here. So we're overjoyed.

  • FRED DE SAM LAZARO:

    Other delegates were nervous about the potential impact of the storm. City Attorney Bob Ellis of New Orleans.

    BOB ELLIS, Louisiana delegate: I think a lot of the delegates are anxious like them. You know, it was a very big concern. Some of the delegates went home to get their families to secure areas. I evacuated before I came here, so this was sort of my evacuation.

  • FRED DE SAM LAZARO:

    College student Deanna Wallace of Shreveport, meanwhile, said the state's delegation would try to make the best of the situation.

    DEANNA WALLACE, Louisiana delegate: It is a little disappointing. We have been so excited to come here and to be here. And to have it kind of overshadowed and rained on, I suppose you could say, by Gustav is — it's sad. But I think that we're resilient. And if anyone knows how to have a good time in the midst of a storm, it's Louisiana.

  • MINISTER:

    We know, Father, that you will send a hedge of protection…

  • FRED DE SAM LAZARO:

    The Louisiana delegation closed the breakfast with a prayer, while Gustav continued to rage.

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