ST. PAUL, Minn. As anxious Republican delegates bid their time, President Bush on Monday headed for Texas, a state threatened by Hurricane Gustav. Presidential nominee-in-waiting John McCain suggested defenses against Hurricane Gustav are better than three years ago when Katrina slammed into New Orleans, but are "not perfect."
Bush, whose administration was widely accused of a botched handling of the Katrina disaster, was traveling to Austin and San Antonio to visit staging grounds for emergency response efforts. He had been scheduled to speak on the convention's opening night but canceled when Gustav turned threatening.
The Republican National Convention remained in limbo on its first day as party officials watched the hurricane closely and were taking things on a day-by-day basis. At McCain's behest, party leaders called off the first night's festivities and planned only a truncated business meeting in the afternoon.
Hurricane Gustav weakened slightly to a Category 2 storm as it neared landfall along the heavily evacuated Louisiana coast. The National Hurricane Center said Gustav, with 110-mph winds, should hit somewhere southwest of New Orleans by midday Monday.
McCain, who visited Mississippi on Sunday, said that while there is now better coordination among federal, state and local authorities, there are still problems.
"There's still, I think, not as much communications equipment as we want. There's still not enough search-and-rescue capabilities, although they're trying to fix that. It's not perfect, but I think that it's dramatically different than it was in response to Katrina," McCain said in an interview broadcast on NBC's "Today" show. The interview was taped on Sunday.