Hurricane Isaac delays start of Republican National Convention in Tampa

As in 2008, Republicans scramble to adjust speaking and travel schedules to cope with the hurricane. The vote to formally nominate Mitt Romney shifts to Tuesday – for now. Stay tuned.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Workers prepare the stage for the Republican National Convention inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Saturday, in Tampa, Fla.

Hurricane Isaac will sink at least one day of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., this week, organizers announced Saturday evening.

The convention will convene Monday but suspend all activities until a time to be determined on Tuesday, a senior strategist for Mitt Romney, the chair of the national Republican Party, and the convention’s president said in a conference call with reporters.

“We believe that even though we were planning on doing it four days, we think we can absolutely do it in three,” said Russ Schriefer, the senior Romney strategist, on the call.

The cancellation marks the second consecutive Republican National Convention to have a first day cancelled due to storms. In 2008, hurricane Gustav hit landfall in Louisiana just as the GOP convention in St. Paul, Minn., was to begin.

Now, hurricane Issac brings up a few logistical questions on a stage where logistics matter: Conventions for both parties are highly choreographed showcases of the party in which the order of speakers, for example, is assembled carefully to ensure that both party insiders and the viewing public see an appealing image.

Monday was the day scheduled for the vote to formally nominate Mitt Romney as the Republican Party’s presidential candidate – that vote will move back to Tuesday, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said.

No state delegations have backed out of the convention, and the organizers said they were working to secure alternative transportation and accommodation options should the need arise.

“We have a lot of people that need to plan,” Mr. Priebus said. “We’re not going to put delegates on a bunch of buses over the bridges between Clearwater and St. [Petersburg] when we can’t predict how severe the wind is going to be."

The speaking schedule, too, needs to be rejiggered. Sen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky, beloved by libertarians and the object of some presidential speculation, and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, among others, were both slated to speak Monday night.

Mr. Schriefer said they would attempt to fit all of the speakers into the remaining three days and may open official convention business earlier than previously planned to accommodate more speakers.

In an e-mail Saturday evening, Priebus noted that the convention was working with local, state, and federal agencies to determine the path forward. The RNC said it would be providing a revised convention schedule as early as Sunday.

Before Saturday’s announcement, the storm had already changed convention plans in smaller ways. Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) gave up his speaking slot on Monday night to monitor the storm. Vice President Joe Biden cancelled his Tuesday trip to Florida to free up law enforcement to handle Isaac’s potential impact.

“Our first priority is ensuring the safety of delegates, alternates, guests, members of the media attending the Republican National Convention, and citizens of the Tampa Bay area,” Priebus said in the e-mail.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.