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Republican's focus on aid for Gustav victims

 Republican's focus on aid for Gustav victims
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US Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain helped pack relief supplies for the victims of Hurricane Gustav as his party turned the opening day of its Minnesota convention into an appeal for aid.

The opening speeches were cut back and, instead of President George W. Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney, First Lady Laura Bush and John McCain’s wife Cindy called for help for those affected by Gustav, while glitzy opening night parties were transformed into fundraisers.

McCain has said he still plans to officially accept the Republican nomination.

Outside the convention hall in St Paul, police in riot gear used pepper spray and smoke bombs to control hundreds of protestors after a largely-peaceful anti-war demonstration turned violent.

Officials say 130 people were arrested on charges ranging from trespass to property damage and assault.

Over the weekend, the police had carried out a series of raids targetting locations where groups were believed to be planning attacks on the convention.