Dole to miss GOP convention

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina won't be attending the Republican national convention, which begins over Labor Day weekend.

Her spokeswoman, Katie Hallaway, said people shouldn't read too much into the decision – either about the senator's support for likely nominee John McCain or about how she views the security of her re-election in November against Democratic state Sen. Kay Hagan.

“She's got a busy week scheduled in North Carolina,” Hallaway said. “When there are breaks in the Senate schedule, she spends as much time as possible in North Carolina.”

Dole will be visiting with businesses, organizations and other constituent groups, but Hallaway said the schedule is not yet finalized.

Her absence from the Republican convention in St. Paul, Minn., is notable. Dole is a GOP star, a speaker who could rally the faithful at daily state delegation breakfasts.

In addition, she's a former presidential candidate herself, running briefly in 2000, and the wife of popular former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas, who was the party's standard bearer in 1996. The co-chair of the GOP platform committee is her fellow senator from North Carolina, Richard Burr.

Elizabeth Dole had a prime-time television speaking role at the last GOP convention in New York City, where she praised President Bush and talked in support of traditional marriage, freedom of religion and the sanctity of life.

The National Journal reported at least three other GOP senators will not attend: Ted Stevens of Alaska, Maine's Susan Collins and Colorado's Wayne Allard. Stevens has been indicted, Collins has a tough re-election campaign, and Allard is retiring.