With Hurricane Gustav bearing down on the Gulf Coast, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain has called for substantial changes to the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Click here for information on the changes to day one on Monday, Sept. 1, along with information on other initiatives and possible changes for Tues-Thurs.

As of this writing, there will still be some sort of a convention, even if it only consists of basic minimum requirements, like ratifying the party platform and voting by delegates to formally name the presidential and vice-presidential candidates.

As the RNC press release says:

Republican Party Rules
The convention program has been altered in response to the situation
developing in the Gulf States region. However, the convention will
still take place. According to party rules, it is necessary for the
convention to proceed in order to ensure that the party is able to
place its candidates’ names on the ballot in November.

On November 9, 2007, pursuant to the rules adopted at the 2004
National Republican Convention, the party issued the call for its
convention. The call requires that the convention meet on Sept. 1,
2008. The session must be convened no earlier than 9 a.m. and no later
than 7 p.m. Under the current party rules, this is the only method by
which the party may select a candidate for President and Vice

For a general history and overview of the presidential election process, the Congressional Research Service has provided this primer, available in PDF form.

Today, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune offered this story discussing changes to the convention and to the TV coverage.

Quite rightly, cable and network news organizations have shifted much of their focus and resources away from the RNC toward the Gulf Region. The cable networks’ — CNN, Fox News and MSNBC — schedules are very fluid, as is C-SPAN’s, which offers gavel-to-gavel coverage. Also gavel-to-gavel in primetime is PBS, which is posting updates (including by Twitter) here.

ABC, NBC and CBS still have one hour of coverage scheduled for 10 p.m. ET on Monday night. This may change. Check on-line listings at your local newspaper, your local network affiliate or at Zap2it.com for updates.

Coverage of Gustav dominates local channels in the Gulf Coast region, which are offering feeds not only over the air but over the Internet.

This link offers feeds of several local channels in the New Orleans area.

Links to other local channels in the area under threat include WAPT in Jackson, Miss.; WKRG, covering Mobile, Ala. and Pensacola, Fla.; and a Fox Television Stations, Inc. site called MyFoxHurricane.com, featuring feeds from Texas, Louisiana. Florida, Mississippi and Alabama, along with satellite images.

Here are also links to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency; Emergency Louisiana.gov; and Alabama Emergency Management Agency.

As always, the Weather Channel offers continuous storm tracking.

And the Red Cross has tips on hurricane safety.

In the words of Sgt. Esterhaus from "Hill Street Blues," "Let’s be careful out there."

Posted by:Kate O'Hare