Storm forces GOP to scrap first day of convention
Tampa, Fla. • Republican officials abruptly announced plans Saturday evening to scrap the first day of their national convention, bowing to a threat posed by Tropical Storm Isaac, churning toward Florida.
"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," party Chairman Reince Priebus said in an emailed announcement that followed private conversations involving presidential candidate Mitt Romney's campaign, security officials and others.
Priebus added that forecasters have predicted that convention-goers "may encounter severe transportation difficulties due to sustained wind and rain" on Monday, the day the convention had been scheduled to open.
The announcement said that while the convention would officially be gaveled into session on Monday as scheduled, the day's events would be canceled until Tuesday.
That meant Romney's formal nomination would be postponed by a day, from Monday to Tuesday, but the balance of the four days of political pageantry and speeches would go on as scheduled.
The former Massachusetts governor campaigned in battleground Ohio during the day, pledging to help women entrepreneurs and innovators who are eager to create small businesses and the jobs that go with them. It was an economy-themed countdown to the convention taking shape in a city already bristling with security and bracing for a possible hurricane.
"Women in this country are more likely to start businesses than men. Women need our help," said the Republican presidential challenger, eager to relegate recent controversy over abortion to the sidelines and make the nation's slow economic recovery the dominant issue of his convention week.
Romney campaigned with running mate Paul Ryan in Ohio as delegates arrived in Florida by the planeload.
The announcement made the GOP convention the party's second in a row to be disrupted by weather.
Four years ago, the delegates gathered in St. Paul, Minn., but Hurricane Gustav, slamming the Gulf Coast, led to a one-day postponement.