President Bush and Vice President Cheney will not attend the Republican convention in Minnesota as scheduled Monday because of concerns about Hurricane Gustav, the White House said Sunday.
After visiting the Federal Emergency Management Agency's operations center, the president is expected to make a statement Sunday about the storms. He began the day by biking at the Secret Service's training center in Beltsville, Md.
The convention schedule had Bush as the featured speaker before delegates in St. Paul, Minn., late on the opening night.
Bush may actually travel to the Gulf Coast at some point and perhaps speak to the GOP convention by video.
GOP presidential candidate John McCain, along with his wife, Cindy, and running mate Sarah Palin intended to travel to Jackson, Miss., on Sunday at the invitation of Gov. Haley Barbour because of concerns about people threatened by the storm. They were to receive a briefing at the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency - a permanent operations center monitoring hurricane response.
Ahead of the storm, Bush pre-emptively declared states of emergency for Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama. The declaration clears the way for federal aid to supplement state and local efforts and formalizes coordination. His administration did the same before Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, when the federal response was severely criticized.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Federal Emergency Management Agency chief David Paulison have visited the region to monitor developments; Chertoff was returning there Sunday. Equipment and people were put in position and safe shelters readied, with cots, blankets and hygiene kits en route.
Bush aides said in the run-up to the convention that the president intended to spend most of his speech on McCain, discussing the requirements of the presidency and how he believes McCain fills them all. Bush was not expected to reflect that much on his two terms or target the Democratic nominee, Barack Obama.
With New Orleans' mandatory evacuation getting under way Sunday morning, internal government briefing documents obtained by The Associated Press on Sunday said Louisiana was short 750 buses needed for evacuation.