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GOP Convention Notebook Day 1

Luck seems to run out on Republican conventions held in Minneapolis/St. Paul, not that there have been many.

The last one was in 1892, 116 years ago.

That year, the convention nominated naturally the incumbent President Benjamin Harrison who went on to be defeated by Grover Cleveland.

It was a rematch as four years earlier Harrison had beaten Cleveland who was the incumbent then.

Oddly enough, rain was a convention issue, not for Harrison in Minneapolis that year, but rather for Cleveland in Chicago where a hastily built building called the 'Wigwam' was erected for the convention. It rained so heavily that the roof leaked and the convention was disrupted. In fact, the Taminy Hall delegation from New York City had to use umbrellas inside to stay dry.

The weather appears not to have had an impact in 1892 but Hurricane Gustav has already exacted a political toll this year. Consider that last Monday on the convention's opening day for the Democrats in Denver, an estimated 22 million Americans tuned in on TV to watch Senator Ted Kennedy's and Michelle Obama's speeches. That won't happen here.

It seems likely the House and Senate candidates who had hoped to address this convention to excite Republicans and Help the GOP retake Congress won't get their turn at the podium as the Democratic Congressional candidates did in Denver.

Obama didn't get much of a bump out of his convention; just a few points, but will McCain get any?

On the other hand, McCain might win points with potential voters by helping to focus national attention on the hurricane-battered Gulf Coast. Winning political favor is not 'the point' says the campaign, though privately operatives hope that is a result.

And what about Minneapolis/St Paul? Well if the delegates hang around here all four days, even if this convention is further disrupted, the local economy might benefit. Conventioneers will be shopping at places like the Mall of America, the biggest in the country, instead of attending to convention duties.

Despite all this, GOP convention planners still hope Minneapolis/St. Paul will produce a winner in John McCain.

If he doesn't win, the twin cities will have the distinction of going zero for two among convention cities in trying to produce a White House winner, joining Houston as the only 0-2 city since 1892.

This program aired on September 1, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.

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