Thanks to Tropical Storm Isaac, Republicans have been forced to rewrite tightly scripted plans for their national convention in Tampa, canceling Monday's opening events and squeezing the four-day convention's activities and speeches into a jam-packed Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday schedule. Forecasters now say Isaac should steer west of Tampa, but predict that the storm is likely to strengthen into a hurricane and threaten the Gulf Coast, possibly even New Orleans, as early as Wednesday. That scary scenario, coming seven years to the week after Hurricane Katrina, could divert even more attention from the carefully crafted messaging in Mitt Romney's big coming-out party. GOP insiders are reportedly fuming at the party officials who chose to hold the convention in Florida at the height of hurricane season. In retrospect, was this a really bad idea?
The GOP made a huge mistake: Holding a convention in a hurricane-prone area at the height of hurricane season is "dumb," says Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway. Now, Romney could wind up being "overshadowed by the storm," especially if New Orleans finds itself in Isaac's path. In years past, conventions were held earlier in summer, when storms are less common. "Going back to the way we did things in the '80s might be a good idea."
"Isaac demonstrates why political conventions in late August are a dumb idea"
But Republicans had good reasons for picking Tampa: The odds of a storm hitting town during the convention were under 1 percent, says Aaron Blake at The Washington Post. The GOP figured that was a gamble worth taking. Florida is a critical swing state, and Tampa is in the "all-important Interstate 4 corridor," which "swung significantly for Obama in 2008." The region is also struggling economically, making it prime pick-up territory for disgruntled swing voters.
"Why the GOP gambled on Tampa"
With any luck, this will only be a minor problem: Yes, "this is a setback for Romney," says Rick Moran at The American Thinker. And it cost some GOP stars — like Nikki Haley, Mike Huckabee, and Jeb Bush — their speaking slots. But the organizers will probably scramble and get Jeb, a popular former Florida governor, on the dais somehow. If nothing else goes wrong, this hiccup " will be forgotten when the last echoes of applause for Mr. Romney's acceptance speech fade away."
"GOP cancels first day of convention due to Isaac"
Other stories from this topic:
- The List: 7 factors that will make or break the GOP convention
- Opinion Brief: Mitt Romney's birther joke: Did he cross the line?
- Opinion Brief: GOP convention: Are TV networks wrong to ignore Ann Romney's speech?