Daily Glean: Republicans try going apolitical as Gustav approaches

A political hurricane hits local convention boosters. With Gustav headed for New Orleans, John McCain canceled Day One’s political sparring during a toe-touch in Mississippi, the Strib’s Kevin Diaz and David Phelps report. Republicans may use the convention as a disaster-relief telethon. An apolitical convention is a “near-oxymoron,” write the Strib’s Bob von Sternberg and Mike Kazuba, but there are obvious political benefits: George Bush and Dick Cheney canceled their visits. McCain may accept the nomination from the Gulf.

Then again, storm as one-convention-day footnote?: Gustav has weakened to a Category 2 storm, AP reports. The fear was a Category 3-to-5.

Planners say (hope?) the Twin Cities will still get its financial windfall. Most folks are already here and spending cash, the Strib’s Liz Fedor reports, but MPR’s Collins says you could roll a bowling ball through downtown St. Paul Sunday. MPR’s Tim Nelson and Laura Yuen say half of Forepaugh’s Sunday reservations didn’t show, and Mancini’s suffered when Katie Couric’s crew canceled.

Parties will have a hurricane-relief patina: “An outing to the exclusive Hazeltine golf course … will be used to raise money for hurricane relief efforts,” Diaz and Phelps note. As the PiPress’ Tom Webb puts it: “Wild and crazy is out. Dignified and concerned is in”

A 50,000-person protest will go on as scheduled today. Organizers say the hurricane only amplifies their message “that investing in human needs must outweigh waging an expensive war,” the Strib’s Curt Brown writes. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman’s mother-in-law will march. The PiPress’ Mara Gottfried and Bob Shaw say organizers have planned the march for two years. WCCO talks with leaders here. Capitol speeches at 11 a.m.; march at 1 p.m.

Seven marchers were arrested in downtown St. Paul, Brown notes. About 400 Veterans for Peace, carrying a makeshift casket, were met by “dozens” of riot-garbed Ramsey County deputies. Two nuns were ticketed and released. A smaller group had peeled off from the route as a planned act of civil disobedience, the PiPress’ John Brewer writes. Minnesota Independent, who along with The Uptake is your early protest-coverage leader, has a richly photo-illustrated spread here. Great Strib photo here. (Hat tip: Metroblogging.)

More protests: One activist whose van was searched (it contained banners) said Denver cops “walked a fine line, but these people are doing a terrible job.” Ex-MPR reporter Art Hughes profiles the protest-defending National Lawyers Guild for Twin Cities Daily Planet. For an overview on the weekend’s raid coverage, see my media post here. An ironic photo, via MPR’s Bob Collins, here.

The National Lawyers Guild asked a judge to prevent police from seizing cameras and other recording equipment, Minnesota Independent’s Andy Birkey reports. This, after a raid-filled weekend when police took cameras and camera-enabled cellphones from people and groups who claimed they were police-watching journalists and activists. Politics in Minnesota, which has dramatically ramped up breaking-news coverage for the convention, has a report here.

Whoa: The Strib’s Chris Riemenschneider, covering the Republican Governors Association party at Nye’s, says Hennepin County deputies followed him for “a mile back to the newsroom after I left the party.” He was also questioned about taking photos.

More partying: The PiPress’ Dave Orrick and Rachel Stassen-Berger contend cashflow might rise as delegates have more free time from convention events. The Connecticut delegation canceled a cruise tonight, but Chambers Hotel says all 20 events have been reconfirmed, Fedor notes. The Guthrie says its six parties are also going on, Webb adds. The previously scheduled Friends of New Orleans All-Star Jam-balaya is definitely still happening at First Avenue, the PiPress’ Jason Hoppin reports.

The Strib’s Neal Justin offers a list of media types who bugged out. Among the disappeared: Diane Sawyer, Charles Gibson, Katie Couric, Brian Williams, Keith Olbermann and Ann Curry. MPR’s Bob Collins says Jim Lehrer is also gone, and the PiPress notes Anderson Cooper was never coming here. You’ll have to content yourself with Tom Brokaw, Wolf Blitzer and Britt Hume. The Strib’s Kristin Tillotson notes “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart flew first class from Denver while ABC’s Sam Donaldson was in coach.

More “star” power: The cast of the anti-Michael Moore movie “An American Carol” are also here, Politico reports. The one person you’ve heard of: Jon Voight.

A glass-rattling explosion near the state Capitol was the work of police; apparently, a State Patrol worker dropped a “flash bang” grenade, the Strib’s Chao Xiong writes.

The Strib’s dueling columnists live up to their billing: Nick Coleman says GOP delegates should go to North Minneapolis to show genuine concern, and mocks Sheriff Bob Fletcher’s preventive detention of alleged criminal urine. Meanwhile, Katherine Kersten touts a pro-war protest whose organizer says today’s larger demonstration will bum out the troops.

Lousiana delegates fretted from a distance; it’s unclear how many took advantage of a McCain-chartered plane to go get their families and bring them to Minnesota, the Strib’s Steve Brandt writes. MPR’s Annie Baxter talked to a delegate who took advantage. Some alternates were upgraded to delegates because of absences. At least one delegate regrets coming.

Dozens of Minnesota delegates worked at the Union Gospel Mission in St. Paul Sunday, Megan Boldt writes. It’s a repeat of 1996 and 2004 efforts.

The PiPress’ Jason Hoppin profiles the St. Paul cop in charge of convention security, Matt Bostrom.

Related: The Deets’ Ed Kohler notes a definite recent uptick in St. Paul-based escort ads on Craigslist.

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