US President George W. Bush today was to urge Republicans to rally behind White House champion John McCain in a speech by satellite to the party's national convention, his spokeswoman said.
"The president will spend the majority of his speech tonight to rally the party faithful to make sure they do all they can to elect John McCain to be president of the United States," said Dana Perino.
Bush cancelled plans to appear in person yesterday at the gathering in St Paul, Minnesota, in order to manage the response to Hurricane Gustav and prepared for other storms that could strike the US coastline.
"He would have liked to have been there, but, again, we can't control the timing of the hurricanes, and not just Hurricane Gustav, but the ones that are churning out in the Atlantic," Perino told reporters.
Initially set to speak 15 minutes, Bush's address from the White House was to last roughly eight minutes, said Perino, who dismissed talk of Republican worries about the vastly unpopular president's impact as "psychobabble."
Some observers have noted that Bush and McCain have not appeared together in months, as the Arizona senator grapples with the president's eight-year legacy, which core Republicans love but risks alienating independent voters.
"I'm going to leave all the political psychobabble to the press," Perino said. "What I will tell you is President Bush is very pleased that he's going to have a chance to address the GOP convention tonight.