updated 8/25/2008 11:27:37 AM ET 2008-08-25T15:27:37

They're grossly outnumbered by a swarm of Democrats, but national Republicans have set up shop in Denver, hoping to thrust themselves into the media's coverage of the Democratic convention.

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While the spotlight naturally is focused on Barack Obama, national Republicans have set up an effort to grab media coverage, or at least offer some balance to the Democrats' show.

The GOP effort includes a "war room" and media center less than a mile from the convention hall and making top Republicans such as Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney available for press conferences and satellite interviews to television stations across the country, especially in swing states.

There's a new GOP web site with videos and ads, along with plans for rapid responses to attacks on GOP nominee-to-be John McCain and to speeches from the Democrats.

A staff of two dozen has set up shop in temporary workspace up the road from the Pepsi Center and thousands of journalists. Security at the war room is tight to avoid problems with Democratic protesters.

For all their efforts, Republicans acknowledge they face an uphill battle in disrupting the carefully choreographed narrative of Democrats and Obama.

"The reality is that this is going to be Barack Obama's week," says Matt McDonald, senior adviser for the McCain campaign. "We don't have any illusions about the challenges we face in getting our message out, but you can't expect people to cover you if you don't show up."

Still, with a 24-hour news cycle and thousands of reporters in Denver, Republicans anticipate plenty of demand for an alternative to the Democratic narrative.

"We want to be in the stories," says Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan. "There should be a balance ... and we want to make sure we're available to tell the other side of the story."

There's also an element of political chess. On Monday morning, a Democrat — former Rep. Tim Penny of Minnesota — will appear as a surrogate for the Republican McCain. Hours later, a Republican — former Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa, will speak to Denver delegates as part of Obama's Monday night "One Nation" program.

Video: Obama adviser on ‘dynamic team’ The GOP is aiming to grab the spotlight from the Democrats. Minnesota GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty's is scheduled to visit Denver on Thursday — before that night's main event — to highlight the fact that the GOP convention is right around the corner.

The GOP theme is "Not Ready '08" with the tagline of, "A Mile High, an Inch Deep." Clearly, the war room is aimed at whacking Obama at every turn. The message is that Obama is a celebrity not qualified for the White House.

It remains to be seen how effective the GOP effort will be. A tour for television crews Sunday afternoon attracted just a handful of journalists, though all three broadcast networks came through at some point in the day. About a dozen print reporters took a look as well.

But a key target is local media in battleground states. That's what the satellite truck in the parking lot is for: to allow for local stations in states such as Michigan and Ohio to interview top-name Republicans such as Giuliani and Romney.

Giuliani will appear on Wednesday, when Democrats will focus on national security. It's Romney's day on Tuesday, when Democrats will talk about domestic issues and the economy.

Other GOP surrogates for McCain include Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia and Carly Fiorina, former top executive at Hewlett-Packard Co. and a McCain campaign adviser.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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