ST. PAUL, Minn. — Republican convention delegates rallied Monday around presumptive vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin as they made the first day of their gathering a subdued show of sympathy for Hurricane Gustav's victims.
First lady Laura Bush and Cindy McCain, the wife of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, addressed the convention, staying away from partisan politics.
"As we gather in Minnesota, a great storm afflicts our country," Cindy McCain said. "And when one of us is threatened, we are all threatened. As Americans, we all rise to the challenge."
Outside the convention hall, an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 antiwar protesters marched down St. Paul's streets, sometimes smashing windows, blocking roads and tossing bottles. Police used pepper spray to subdue them.
Inside the Xcel Energy Center, the site of the Republican gathering, delegates were eager to promote political unity. It was nearly impossible to find a delegate or Republican official who thought that news about Palin's 17-year-old unmarried daughter's pregnancy had hurt the presidential ticket, and Laura Bush drew loud cheers when she mentioned the Alaska governor's name.