ST. PAUL, MINN.-One day after hurricane-wary Republicans here in St. Paul, Minn., scuttled most of the opening ceremonies for the Republican National Convention (RNC), organizers hinted that things would resume a fuller schedule as Gulf Coast residents survived a near miss with Hurricane Gustav. Tuesday night's line-up included President George Bush via satellite, Laura Bush, Sen. Joe Lieberman, and former presidential candidate and senator Fred Thompson.
But the second day of this already-unusual convention brought a new headache for convention-goers: driving rain. It was nothing like what residents along the Gulf Coast endured over the last three days, but it was enough to snarl efforts to shuffle between events-and the Twin Cities-with ease.
At least one group seemed wholly unaffected by the soggy conditions: Ron Paul supporters gathered at the Target Center in downtown Minneapolis for the "Rally for the Republic." Organizers said they had sold more than 10,000 tickets for the event that promised appearances by MSNBC personality Tucker Carlson, country singer Sara Evans, and, of course, Texas congressman and former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul.
Two hours before the rally began, drenched Ron Paul enthusiasts lined the streets, holding up signs with slogans like: "Dump McCain," and "Take Our Country Back."
Inside the 15,000-seat arena, copies of independent newspaper USA Tomorrow draped thousands of seats, bearing the headlines: "Candidates Without a Clue" and "Obama's Communist 'Cover-Up' Continues."
Not everyone in the crowd was anti-McCain. Kathryn Kist, chairman of the Republican Party in Olathe, Kan., is an alternate delegate to the RNC, but says she hopes the party will move in Paul's constitutionalist direction.
Sporting a red-white-and-blue outfit, Kist also sported buttons reading "Enjoy Capitalism" and "Guns Don't Kill People, Abortion Clinics Do." A conservative evangelical, Kist told WORLD she'd support John McCain because "this country does not need-and maybe couldn't handle-four years of an Obama presidency. That scares me."
Kist originally supported Alan Keyes' candidacy, and volunteered as a campaign coordinator for Kansas. "McCain isn't my first choice," she said. "My guy lost, but it was part of the process."
She hopes McCain and other Republicans will "go back to the Constitution," but she says she won't give up on the party, and that she'll go back to the RNC later in the day: "The Republican Party is still the party with the right ideas."