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Shields and Brooks Weigh Impact of Subdued RNC on McCain Campaign

Hurricane Gustav's brush with New Orleans on the first scheduled day of the GOP convention has changed the dynamic of the event. Political analysts Mark Shields and David Brooks discuss the convention's abbreviated first day and what lies ahead in the coming week.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Some final thoughts now from Shields and Brooks, the Shields and Brooks, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    Let's start with you, David. What are the politics of what is happening there at the — in the Gulf Coast and what is not happening here in this convention. Politics, not history, politics of the day, presidential politics?

  • DAVID BROOKS, Columnist, New York Times:

    Well, I mean, they could not have that split-screen image of Republicans speaking or especially Republicans speaking in any negative way and suffering in the Gulf Coast, so it was sort of a no-brainer, though I am struck by the fact that, after Pearl Harbor, nobody canceled anything. They had basketball games. They had everything.

    Now, after 9/11, we cancel things. They've canceled this convention. Politically, I understand it. They just couldn't afford that split-screen image.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Yes.

    What do you think, Mark? What does this mean politically for both parties, or do we know yet?

  • MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:

    Well, I'm not sure we know yet, Jim. Obviously, the apparent bullet that's been dodged in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast and the lack of a loss of life and the response that seems far better organized is at least a neutralizing and not a liability for the administration, or for the Republican Party, or for John McCain, maybe even a minor plus.

    The absence of George Bush and Dick Cheney is probably a serious blow to the ad-makers of Barack Obama who were looking for some fresh footage of McCain and Bush together.

    I mean, Richard mentioned that George Bush is popular in this room. He is. He's enormously popular. The CBS poll has him at 80 percent favorable among the delegates.

    But for much of the Republican Party, he's forgotten, if not gone, and especially for those who are trying to get John McCain elected.

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