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Schieffer, Greenfield On RNC Activities Being Suspended Tomorrow

(ST. PAUL) Shortly after the RNC briefing announcing the suspension of most activities at the convention tomorrow, I caught up with chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer and senior political correspondent Jeff Greenfield for some reaction:

"This is the last thing Republicans expected would be happening on the opening of their convention," Schieffer said. "But John McCain has really come in and taken charge. He says we've got to take off our party hat and put on our American hat, and we've got to all be on the same team. John McCain was one of the first people who stepped out and criticized the Bush administration for its slow reaction to Katrina. He's going to make damn sure that that doesn't happen this time around."

"He's also going to make sure that there's no pictures going out on television of people dancing around with funny hats on while this tragedy is unfolding down on the coast," he continued. "I think it speaks well of McCain. He reached out and got a hold of this thing, and made sure they are focused on what they ought to be focusing on, and that is those people down on the coast."

Greenfield said that the situation gives McCain a chance to underline his message.

"If you go out on the convention floor and look around, the slogan of this convention, and the slogan of McCain's campaign, is Country First," he noted. "That's his whole basic argument – I put country first. Surely, by this accident of fate, McCain has a way to demonstrate what he means by postponing all the political activities here and only doing what is legally required."

"Now, had McCain and the Republicans gone on with a convention, and had this hurricane hit with as bad a force as we fear, you'd have had split screen pictures of delegates in funny hats and lots of buttons partying while there was great stress in New Orleans," Greenfield added. "So there was no choice. But as it happens, this does tend to underline the basic theme of the McCain campaign."