GOP worries Gustav could blow away convention

Top Republican strategists huddled Wednesday, fearing another hurricane could swamp the GOP convention just days after the third anniversary of Katrina’s landfall.

Politico reports RNC planners are concerned Gustav, a potential Category 3 hurricane, is on a path to hit New Orleans on Labor Day, the same day President Bush is scheduled to address the opening night of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.

The storm could threaten everything from President Bush’s Monday night address to the broader Republican message of effective government management.

Local officials fear a Katrina II — a rerun of the storm that ravished New Orleans and badly damaged Bush’s image.

Dick Cheney and Laura Bush are both scheduled to kick off the convention before shuttling off stage, lest viewers dwell too much on the current administration’s abysmal approval ratings.

Friday is the third anniversary of Katrina’s landfall. The sloppy government response still haunts the Bush administration, raising questions about whether the president would address a political gathering if the Southeast coast was being battered by another monster storm.

Friday is also the day John McCain turns 73 and is likely to name a running mate — probably not anyone named Gustav or Katrina.

Liberal advocacy group Progressive Accountability plans to emphasize Republican responsibility for Katrina and its aftermath as the GOP gathers:

“We will be making sure everyone knows it is not just Bush who has a Katrina problem,” said the group’s Eddie Vale. “McCain was eating birthday cake with Bush after the levees broke. And then he voted against oversight, against medicaid for victims, and against unemployment benefits for victims.”