RNC tries to get momentum back

ST. PAUL, MN Day two's events also got a bit livelier as attention began to turn away from Gustav. On the first format of activities at the Republican National Convention you could feel the energy slowly seep back into the Xcel Energy Center.

Even though President Bush was not there in person to talk to the delegates, he did extol the virtues of John McCain via satellite from Washington.

"When the debates have ended and all of the ads have run and it is time to vote, Americans will look closely at the judgment, the experience and the policies of the candidates and they will cast their ballots for the McCain/Palin ticket," said President Bush.

After the president, Fred Thompson and Joe Lieberman spoke. Thompson, a conservative Republican and Lieberman, an Independent Democrat, which begs the question this morning -- what message is the GOP trying to send this week?

The word reform here is akin to the Democrats use of the word unity. It is the buzz about where this party is heading.

"The Republican Party is clearly on the reform glide path," said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. "We realize that we need to engineer some changes in the way that we do business in Washington. Business as usual in Washington is no longer accepted."

But what exactly does that mean?

When your nominee is a traditionally moderate maverick and his running mate is unabashedly right wing, which is the better clue as to the GOP's direction.

"I think McCain's vice presidential choice gives a good indication the party is heading in," said Texas delegate Michael Franks.

That could be true and McCain did appease the most conservative part of the party with his vice presidential choice.

"Sarah Palin got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska than Joe Biden did in two quests for the presidency. That ought to tell you something," said Mike Huckabee, former presidential candidate.

And as Mike Huckabee told Eyewitness News this morning, it's the direction the party has always taken.

"Can you tell me which direction you think the party is heading? "Is it heading more toward the middle, more toward the right," we asked.

"I think it's not so much that we're moving, we're staying put where we are, a principled party that believes in strong values about life and marriage, but also believes in lower taxes and an efficient government," said Huckabee.

On the first primetime night of the convention, the GOP chooses to front Joe Lieberman, an independent Democrat who 8 years ago was the VP nominee of the other party. So while Republicans may be reaching out to the middle and the left, it still leans heavily to the right and so must its candidates.

"If the candidate is not doing what the people want that person to do then that candidate is not going to get the votes," said Texas Delegate Steve Thompson.

Tonight, we expect to hear from vice presidential nominee and the Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin and then tomorrow, the final day of the convention, we'll hear from John McCain.

And just like at last week's Democratic convention, the protesters are in full force outside the Xcel Energy Center. But police say these protests are getting out of hand.

Yesterday, officers say they had to use pepper spray and gas to control protesters. They say the group was trying to break down security fences. More protests are planned for today outside the convention.

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