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McCain Replaces Gustav as Convention Star

Day Two of the Republican convention ended in the more traditional fashion of highlighting the GOP nominee rather than watching weather maps of a rampaging Hurricane Gustav. Prayers for those affected by the storm were made throughout Tuesday night, but Republicans were also eager to move ahead with a major early convention goal: showing off Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) long record of service to his country. From fellow former prisoners of war to President Bush to his Senate colleagues, McCain was lauded for his military record and long record as a maverick in the Senate. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (ID-Conn.) got a warm reception from GOP convention delegates as he made the case for why Americans need to look beyond party labels and pick McCain. “This year, when you vote for president, vote the person you believe is best for the country, not the one who belongs to the party you happen to belong to,” Lieberman said. First lady Laura Bush and Former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) set the stage for McCain’s vice presidential pick, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), to take the stage Wednesday night. Both praised Palin as a reformer of the same mold as McCain. Laura Bush praised Palin as a role model for women in government while Thompson pushed back strongly against the media and Democrats for criticism directed at Palin since she was announced as the party’s nominee. Thompson also got the biggest cheers of the night by ridiculing Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama’s (Ill.) stance on abortion, referencing comments Obama made at a faith forum last month. Bush made his convention appearance via a video feed because he was in Washington, D.C., overseeing recovery efforts along the Gulf Coast. Though pundits speculate that Bush also stayed away from the convention because Republicans don’t want to hand Democrats any more opportunities to tie McCain to the unpopular president, convention-goers said they understood the important work the president was attending to in Washington. Louisiana delegate Tim Johnson said that better coordination and organization has allowed delegates to be sure their families and friends were safe back home and he said the hurricane shouldn’t be allowed to interfere with the important business of nominating McCain in St. Paul, Minn. Ruth Lonvick and Meagen Swartzer contributed to this report.