Republican Party Shortens Convention as Storm Skirts Florida

Posted August 27th, 2012 at 1:35 pm (UTC-5)
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The U.S. Republican Party has shortened its national convention for the nomination of its presidential candidate Mitt Romney, as a tropical storm skirts the coastline of Florida, the southeastern state hosting the event.

The four-day convention in the city of Tampa was due to begin Monday, but Republican party officials rescheduled most of the day's speeches and other events for the remaining three days. The delay was prompted by Tropical Storm Isaac, which forecasters said would pass more than 300 kilometers to the west of Tampa as it moves and strengthens across the Gulf of Mexico.

Some Republicans expressed concern that Isaac could overshadow the convention if it makes a destructive landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast later this week. They said such a development may prompt the party to tone down the event's celebratory nature.

Romney aide Russ Schriefer told reporters in Tampa that the campaign is following the storm's progress closely.

“You are always concerned about the people who are in the path of the storm. And as I said, that is going to be our first priority, to make sure that we are taking their concerns into account. So we take it from there – that's where we start.”

He also hinted the convention schedule could be revised again.

“As of now, there are no planned changes, but we are always revisiting (the issue) … we are quick and nimble and I think we will be able to respond to whatever we need to.”

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus was expected to symbolically open the convention Monday afternoon before quickly adjourning. He also planned to activate a clock showing the growth in U.S. national debt during the four-day gathering.

A Washington Post opinion poll published Monday shows President Barack Obama, the Democratic incumbent, and Mr. Romney in a tight race for the November presidential election. It says Mr. Romney has the support of 47 percent of likely voters compared to 46 percent for Mr. Obama — little changed from early July's figures.

Another survey released late Sunday by CNN/ORC International says likely voters believe President Obama is more in touch with their needs than his challenger. It also says those voters believe Mr. Romney has better managerial skills and a clearer plan to fix the nation's problems.

The Republican National Convention proceedings are due to begin Tuesday with a roll call of state delegations to formally nominate Mr. Romney and a speech by Mr. Romney's wife, Ann. The candidate's vice presidential running mate, Paul Ryan, was due to speak on Wednesday, ahead of Mr. Romney's acceptance speech on Thursday.

Mr. Obama's running mate, Vice President Joe Biden, canceled a series of campaign stops in Florida scheduled for Monday and Tuesday because of the storm. But, the Obama campaign kept up the pressure on Republicans Sunday, releasing a movie preview-style video clip mocking the convention as a vain attempt to “do over” Mr. Romney's image. Democrats hold their convention to nominate Mr. Obama next month.