GOP Convention Remains Under Threat From Isaac

As Isaac bears down on the Gulf Coast, will the Republican Convention be even further impacted?

The Tropical Storm Warning that had been in place for parts of Central Florida, including Tampa itself, has been cancelled, but the GOP is still dealing with the possibility that their convention, which has already been shortened by one day due to the threat of Isaac, could be further truncated:

Republican officials are holding to their “wait-and-see” approach to their convention schedule as Tropical Storm Isaac approaches the Gulf Coast region, Mitt Romney adviser Russ Schriefer said Monday.

Convention organizers, who already canceled much of Monday’s program because of the storm, said they still plan to hold convention events on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday — a revised schedule that they released on Sunday. But Schriefer emphasized the campaign continues to monitor the storm closely.

“You’re always concerned about people in path of the storm,” he said. “As I said that’s going to be our first priority. We’ll take it from there.”

The adviser added that as of now, there are still no plans to extend the convention into Friday.

National Journal’s Ron Fournier, meanwhile, says that Republican officials are considering a number of worst-case scenario, including shortening the convention to as short as one day and consisting of very little beyond the formal nomination and Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech. The Boston Globe, meanwhile, is floating an event worse case scenario, the possibility that the convention could be canceled altogether:

TAMPA – There is a distinct possibility that the 2012 Republican National Convention will be cancelled.

The decision may come not so much because the Tampa-St. Petersburg area will suffer a direct hit from Isaac, which built from a tropical storm toward a hurricane as Sunday turned to Monday.

Rather, it may happen because of the damage the high winds and rain would inevitably wreak elsewhere on the Gulf Coast just before the delegates are slated to reconvene Tuesday in the Tampa Bay convention hall.

Conversations with a series of top advisers to presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney made clear that his staff is proceeding afoot with plans to conduct their party’s quadrennial nominating convention.

A conference call at 5:45 p.m. Sunday spelled out the adjusted schedule for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday after organizers earlier decided to cancel Monday’s opening convention session.

But the series of conversations – occurring just hours later – made clear that the Romney staff also realizes that Isaac’s potentially horrid wrath could eclipse any bunting-draped imagery they generate inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

That would render the whole convention exercise a net loss for their candidate, rather than a positive force propelling him into the fall campaign.

Now, I tend to think that cancellation is a rather remote possibility under the circumstances unless Isaac ends up being a Katrina-like disaster, which doesn’t seem to be in the cards at the moment. Indeed, the storm hasn’t even officially been designated a Hurricane yet, although that is expected to happen sometime later today once meteorologists are able to confirm that the storm has reached the 75mph wind speeds that make a Hurricane, well, a Hurricane.  Nonetheless, there’s no doubt that circumstances beyond the GOP’s control could end up having an impact in Tampa, even as the weather in Tampa itself begins to clear up. A convention that is one day shorter than planned isn’t really that big a deal since there’s plenty of dead time in the schedule that can be used to fill-in Speakers schedules for Monday and, of course, some speeches can be shortened or eliminated entirely (suggestion GOP: we don’t need to hear from Mike Huckabee or Donald Trump.) However, if the GOP is forced to shorten the convention even more that could be a serious problem because it limits their ability to get their message out as had been planned. Cancellation, of course, would be a disaster.

Of course, as the storm heads for what looks like a direct hit on New Orleans, at which point it is likely to be a strong Cat. 1 or weak Cat 2 Hurricane, the GOP will be faced with a dilemma. Do they go forward with their convention and risk looking callous, or do they shorten the convention even further and risk losing out on important messaging opportunities? It’s not an easy choice, because it would need to be made far in advance. Indeed, given the fact that the weather in Tampa today as been relatively mild, one might even argue that canceling today’s activities was an error. However, as Reince Priebus said this morning on Morning Joe, he didn’t have the benefit of hindsight when the decision had to be made yesterday, and he had state, local, and national officials telling him that going forward with today’s events could endanger convention attendees and stretch law enforcement and emergency resources. He really had no other choice. The next choice will be a different one, and far harder to make. Stay tuned.

Perhaps this is why the political parties should reconsider scheduling these things in late August.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. JKB says:

    Well, since the gentleman’s agreement is off with the Obama campaign planning events this week, no reason not to give the big Republican speeches next week if necessary.

    Although, the RNC might want to get the nomination out of the way Tuesday just in case there is disaster for the rest of the week. in NOLO.

  2. Commonist says:

    Useless, comfy white poodles sit around in a (mostly) government-built arena barking and snarling at the pack’s enemies, peeing themselves over the Scary Deficit Monster while poor minorities are hammered by climate change, stagnant wages and a recession caused by increasingly lunar financial goings-on that the little poodles want to unshackle to an even greater degree and reward with lower capital gains taxes and the like.

    Is America trying to make me vomit myself to death or something?

  3. Just Me says:

    I think looking callous is a real concern because the democrats and media will harp on devastation in New Orleans while the GOP elite party it up in Tampa.

    Although I think the democrats do not have to worry about a hurricane hitting their convention, the issue of looking callous if the damage is great and there is flooding again. It may be even touchier since at the moment Obama is the CIC.

    My guess is the GOP won’t cancel their convention, but they may end up shortening it even more.

  4. John Burgess says:

    Sure… no problem. Just shift the major speeches to Charlotte on Sept. 5 and 6.

  5. JKB says:

    @Commonist: Is America trying to make me vomit myself to death or something?

    We would consider it a kindness if you got to that. But with a hurricane out there, you might want to keep track of which way the wind is blowing before you throw up all over the comments like that.

  6. Commonist says:


    Accurately describing the GOP convention pretty much requires an emetic reaction. The media isn’t doing its job, so it’s up to me to deliver a pithy comment on the entire republican party and all of its adherents. Which is to hurl up my damn lunch.

  7. Me Me Me says:


    Well, since the gentleman’s agreement is off with the Obama campaign planning events this week, no reason not to give the big Republican speeches next week if necessary.

    In 2008 John McCain appeared on Leno on the first night of the DNC and then Romney went inside the convention center in Denver to give live on-air interviews with any reporter who would stick a mic in front of his face.

    So you can take your ill-informed whiny sense of victim-hood and stick it.

  8. J-Dub says:

    Because Republicans have never looked callous before when a hurricane hit New Orleans…

  9. J-Dub says:

    Who needs voter restrictions when we can just drown everyone in the 7th ward?

  10. JKB says:

    Bridget Johnson over at PJMedia has a post on Jindal skipping the convention. She has this in her post from the National Hurricane Center

    National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb said they are forecasting growth to a Category 1 hurricane as the storm crosses the Gulf of Mexico, though “it could be a little stronger than that.”

    He said the greatest concerns are Isaac’s large size and slow movement, meaning that when it starts raining in an area due to the storm “it could take a couple days” to stop. The greater threat than winds from this storm is likely to be the storm surge of 6-12 feet and “river flooding that could linger for days.”

    That is the big risk here, not so much wind but surge and then heavy rain up the Mississippi valley for days. They could use some rain but so much so fast will just run off and then another wave may approach NOLO from upstream.

  11. Gustopher says:

    Since America seems to truly hate what Republicans say when they are trying to fill more than a simple sound bite, maybe this is really a good thing for the Republicans.

    No convention speeches on legitimate vs. ill-legitimate rape, no phony moralizing, nothing demonizing brown people…

    It could go a lot worse than just being canceled.

  12. sam says:

    Or Priapus and other GOP biggies could call up the National Hurricane Center and tell it to stop shilling for Obama.

  13. James in LA says:

    This only helps Romney. The less seen of him the better.

  14. jukeboxgrad says:

    Or Priapus and other GOP biggies could call up the National Hurricane Center and tell it to stop shilling for Obama.

    If Obama was promoting a phony weather forecast, why would the GOP pay any attention? Why not just ignore it and proceed with the original schedule?

    Rush is essentially saying something like this: ‘Republicans don’t understand science, so there are no Republican meteorologists, so if Obama issues a forecast we are obliged to blindly trust it instead of producing and following our own forecast.’ He’s also saying something like this: ‘only the government can produce a weather forecast; the private sector has no such capacity.’

    I think Rush is smart enough to understand this problem with his narrative, but also smart enough to understand that his audience is too stupid to understand this problem with his narrative.