Sunday, Aug. 31, 2008 | 5:48 p.m.
MINNEAPOLIS - Is it fair to judge a convention by its buttons?
After the 80,000-supporters-plus that were at the Democratic National Convention last week in Denver, the Republican National Convention here in the Twin Cities was already billed as a more low-key affair.
And that was before Sunday's stunning announcement that proceedings would be scaled back as the nation braces for Hurricane Gustav's approach to the Gulf Coast.
Historians can't remember another convention thrown into flux like this.
Still, the tone here is remarkable for the difference from last week.
No cheering crowds greeting delegates stepping off the planes at the airport as if they were Oscar contenders, as was the case in Denver.
No bustle of streetlife as delegates check in at the convention center in Minneapolis -- just a three-piece band led by a banjo playing old-timey music (and some Code Pink protesters and a peace festival a few blocks a way).
In fact, there's one thing clearly missing: Buttons.
There's not a vendor selling anything with an elephant on it for blocks.
They all must be over the river in St. Paul.
Now scrapped from the schedule is Monday's planned speech from Nevada Sen. John Ensign.
The Nevada delegation has also canceled its main event -- a Wednesday evening reception -- but is going forward with Monday's lunch.
Note: The state party canceled its one main event. That's in stark contrast to the organization of the state's Democrats, who opened each morning with a delegation breakfast, followed on many days by delegation lunches and some evening events.
Instead, Nevada's Republicans are looking for ways to lend a hand to the Gulf with blood donations or financial ones.
We'll catch up with them later.
Headed over to St. Paul, where apparently the Ron Paul contingent is gathering.
Back in a bit.