MINNEAPOLIS—Laura Bush did speak at the Republican National Convention after all.
Making a surprise appearance at a breakfast for Cindy McCain and Louisiana delegates this morning at a hotel ballroom miles away from the Xcel Energy Center, the first lady extended her appreciation and thoughts to the residents of New Orleans, but despite a call by John McCain to refrain from partisan attacks as Hurricane Gustav made landfall, she also took the opportunity to take some shots at Barack Obama and campaign for McCain.
Bush made the case for a McCain presidency based upon his bravery and record in government, and called him someone “who is very very experienced especially compared with the other side.”
Wearing a white pantsuit and a red ribbon to honor Hurricane Gustav victims, Bush framed her remarks as what she would say if she were speaking at the convention this evening.
“Tonight is the night I was supposed to give a speech,” said Bush, pausing for a moment when the microphone fell. She added, “Now that tonight’s program has been cancelled” she would take this opportunity to share “some things in my speech about Cindy McCain.”
“I’m glad that now she is going to get to hear what I was going to say,” she said.
Bush said she admired Cindy McCain’s visits this year to Georgia, Rwanda and Vietnam and said, “This is what Cindy McCain has done in the last four or five months as her husband has campaigned for president so you can imagine what she will do as first lady.”
She also put in a plug for McCain’s vice-presidential pick, arguing that Sarah Palin’s experience as the mayor of a small town made her especially qualified to, as the Obama campaign has put it, serve “one heartbeat” away from the presidency of the United States.
“I’m so happy because I’m actually going to have the chance to vote for a Republican woman this time,” said Bush adding that “George and I know Governor Palin.”
She then made a case for Palin’s unique executive experience.
“When you’re mayor, your constituents live next door,” she said, arguing that her experience gave their ticket something special: “local experience.”
Citing all the local coordination necessary to face the challenges posed by a large storm like Hurricane Gustav, she said that experience would make a McCain administration “so much more effective.”