Wednesday, September 03
'Drill, baby, drill!' - Catherine Galloway
Tonight, it was time for the Republican attack dogs .... political rottweiler Rudy Giuliani led the charge, saying "celebrity senator" Barack Obama had led "nothing, nada", while Senator John McCain was "a Top Gun kind of guy" - an all-American hero who got things done.
Then McCain's running mate Sarah Palin admitted that the only thing that distinguished her - an all-American hockey mom - from a pitbull was "lipstick".
The Republicans may have lost a day because of Gustav but their convention is up and running now, and nipping at Democrat heels.
The Xcel Energy Center headed into 'excitement plus' territory with these two speeches - Palin's in particular. "America's hottest governor" bagged standing ovation after standing ovation as well as the most memorable hand-made posters so far including "Hockey moms for Palin!" and "Drill, baby, drill!"
McCain himself made a (not so) surprise appearance on the stage alongside the Palin clan at the end, but cleared off smartish so that the serious business of actually nominating him could get started.
Republicans went home happy, convinced they'd seen a winning ticket. Convinced, too, that Sarah Palin is nobody's poodle.
Monday, September 01
McCain stands in Gustav's shadow - Catherine Galloway
Gustav hasn't even hit yet but the convention schedule is already up in the air.
The contrast between the fizz at the Pepsi Center last week and the distinct lack of energy at the Xcel Energy Center today is remarkable.
Some of the delegates have already been and gone - abandoning the Republicans to be Texans, Floridians, Louisianans, first of all.
First lady Laura Bush and spin-master Karl Rove ARE here - we've seen them. But most people aren't - no President, no Vice President, no John McCain, and the list of keynote speakers is getting thinner by the minute.
Convention organisers though are relentlessly on message. When I asked if the last 48 hours had been a nightmare for them they switched on the smiles and chorused "Not at ALL!" But tonight every briefing we get comes with the warning "TENTATIVE" and that really sums up the mood here.
In the media center "the story" is now declared to be in New Orleans. The thoughts of Americans have been there for days already.
Sunday, August 31
Gustav threatens to spoil Republicans' party - Catherine Galloway
Now it's time for the Republicans to get the party started and delegates and the media are all flying into the Twin Cities to get a dose of "Minnesota nice".
On our plane in today, I sat just one seat in front of Jon Stewart, impish presenter of The political/satirical Daily Show on Comedy Central.
He'd been complaining that he could hardly get any work done in Denver as he kept being mobbed by Democratic delegates .... so we left him in peace! But as we arrived, Hurricane Gustav also got closer and the convention schedule went up in the air.
The Governors of Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi have all just cancelled their appearances, saying they need to stay at home and deal with the storm.
McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, finds herself caught up in the whirlwind just a day after being picked - with her 4-month-old baby in tow, she'll be heading to Jackson, Mississippi with McCain on Sunday to check on hurricane preparations.
Gustav is bad news and worse timing for John McCain, but it could also be the making of his campaign if he shows real leadership this week during a White House race so tied to issues of experience and judgment.
He's yet to announce his plans and for now we don't know what exactly we'll be covering next week - it's unlikely to be a "conventional convention" and could be anything from a fund-raising telethon for disaster relief to a scaled down and sober political gathering - with many key speakers (including President Bush on Monday) likely to appear only by video link. Keep watching the weather ....