Gustav altering course of GOP convention

News executives, pols headed to New Orleans

DENVER -- With Hurricane Gustav aimed squarely at New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, the GOP and news executives are making plans that will alter coverage of the Republican National Convention.

Several network correspondents, anchors and staff normally assigned to the convention were this weekend redirected to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. They include Fox News Channel's Shepard Smith and CNN's Anderson Cooper. CBS' Harry Smith, who covered the DNC last week in Denver, arrived in New Orleans on Sunday, as did NBC anchor Brian Williams.

CBS anchor Katie Couric and Charles Gibson of ABC will be in the region by Monday.

Network news anchors will probably begin their week at the convention but it's anybody's guess, based on the track of the storm and the devastation, whether they will stay.

"We're going to have to see how it plays out," one network news executive said Sunday morning.

The RNC will kick off Monday in St. Paul, Minn., and run through Sen. John McCain's acceptance speech planned for Thursday night in primetime. But as Hurricane Gustav developed into a major storm projected to make landfall Monday night or Tuesday morning near New Orleans almost three years to the day of Hurricane Katrina, the GOP was faced with a decision over whether to hold to its plans.

The White House announced Sunday morning that it was unlikely that President Bush would attend the RNC and make a speech, scheduled Monday night in primetime. It wasn't immediately clear whether Bush would address the convention via satellite.
McCain's plans are less firm. He is supposed to accept the nomination Thursday night, but word is that he might travel instead to the hurricane-ravaged region and speak there. McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin, traveled from a Washington, Pa., campaign stop Saturday night to Mississippi for a storm briefing.