Illinois Republicans affected by RNC plans

August 31, 2008 In the meantime, news of the re-tooled schedule was altering some of the plans for the Illinois delegates who made the trip to St. Paul, Minn.

A band, ironically, welcomed Illinois Republicans to the Twin Cities with the music of Dixieland. But it was one of the only festive trappings at a convention that won't have the usual party atmosphere, unless and until the hurricane situation was under control.

" I'm sickened by the fact that we have to go through this situation with those poor people," said state Rep. Jim Durkin, John McCain campaign co-chair in Illinois.

"Now is not the time for politics. Now, is the time for all Americans to get together and make the best of a bad situation," Illinois Republican delegate Ron Gidwitz said.

Illinois' most popular Republican, former Gov. Jim Edgar, says the truncated convention schedule is no big deal, as long as the delegates and the voters hear from John McCain in person, or via satellite, before they go home.

"The most important thing is that speech, when people will tune in and look at the candidate and make their decisions," Edgar said.

Some of the delegates say McCain's leadership role in the aftermath of the hurricane could actually be more beneficial than a speech and a balloon drop.

" It's an opportunity to show how much we've learned from Katrina," said Judy Baar Topinka, another Illinois Republican delegate.

"At he end of the day, people will be inspired by how the McCain campaign, in its own way, is reaching out," Illinois Republican Chairman Andy McKenna said.

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