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Idaho GOP Sends Care Packages from St. Paul to Gustav Evacuees

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September 3, 2008

St. Paul, MN - There's been a big change of plans for the "Grand Old Party's" grand ol' party in Minnesota. After scaling back the first day of the Republican National Convention, delegates from Idaho and the rest of the country are putting in time to help evacuees stranded by Hurricane Gustav.

Residents of the Gulf Coast are breathing sighs of relief after damage from the storm was less than expected. However, many evacuated families are still far from home, and delegates at the GOP convention are putting together care packages for them. Maryland State lawmaker Tony O'Donnell says he, and the rest of his state's delegation, are rolling up their sleeves today.

"We're going to travel over to the Minneapolis Convention Center very early in the morning, zero-dark-thirty! We're going to go over there and pack some care packages to send down South for relief."

And Fredi Simpson, a delegate from Washington State, thinks the party's decision to tone down the rhetoric of the convention on Day One was the right call.

"We need to remember what Senator McCain has told us, and that's to stop being Republicans for awhile and let's be Americans. That's what we're planning on doing."

As the storm gained strength in the Gulf of Mexico, millions of Gulf Coast residents were evacuated to shelters and adjacent states, most with few possessions or supplies. New Orleans residents are being asked not to return to the city yet, and won't get the okay to go home until later this week.

Over the weekend, John McCain had called on convention-goers to scale back their plans and focus instead on relief efforts. As a result of the hurricane, some of the speakers scheduled for convention events didn't make it to St. Paul; some will appear by satellite.

Eric Mack/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - ID