Bush to skip convention, head to Texas with Gustav evacuees

Bracing for a storm that could surpass Hurricane Katrina, President George W. Bush on Sunday said he would skip the Republican National Convention and head instead to Texas to be with evacuees and emergency responders. He warned a jittery Gulf Coast that it could face "significant flooding." "The message to the people of the Gulf Coast is, this storm is dangerous," Bush said bluntly after a briefing on Hurricane Gustav's path and power. "There's a real possibility of flooding, storm surge, and high winds. ... Do not put yourself in harm's way, or make rescue workers take unnecessary risks." The president's quick change of travel plans will put him in the region on Monday, the very day that Gustav was expected to slam into the United States. The swift, hands-on level of engagement comes three years after his White House was blistered for a sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina. The legacy of that debacle helped shape Bush's presidency. Bush's move also shows the vastly changing tone of the Republican convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, where presidential candidate John McCain has said Gustav will now take precedence. McCain ordered the cancellation of all but essential opening-day activities scheduled for Monday.