Storm Forces Republicans To Cancel Monday Convention Events
Tropical Storm Isaac has been difficult to track, but it's potential to affect Florida has caused the Republican National Convention to change its plans.
Update at 7:00 p.m. ET. RNC Changes Its Schedule:
The Republican National Committee said in a statement Saturday that the Monday night session for the convention in Tampa has been canceled:
"Due to the severe weather reports for the Tampa Bay area, the Republican National Convention will convene on Monday August 27th and immediately recess until Tuesday afternoon, August 28th."
In the statement, Committee Chairman Reince Priebus says they have consulted with Gov. Rick Scott, NOAA and local emergency management officials. RNC President Bill Harris added:
"Federal, state and local officials assure us that they are prepared to respond, if needed, and the scheduling changes we are announcing today will help ensure the continued safety of all participants – our foremost concern."
Our Original Post Continues:
The latest information on Tropical Storm Isaac shows the storm pounded Haiti overnight, and inundated tens of thousands of people still living in tents from the 2010 earthquake. There are reports of flooding and mudslides, and of at least three deaths, according to The Associate Press. Haitian officials are still taking stock.
So where's it going next? Isaac is starting to clip Cuba, and National Hurricane Center projections show later today, it will drive northwest, right over the Florida Keys. A hurricane warning is posted for the Keys and the western Florida coast south of Fort Myers. Isaac is veering away from Florida's Gulf Coast, which means Tampa, the site of next week's Republican National Convention, probably won't see a direct hit.
But no one in Tampa should feel easy. The thousands of delegates, vendors, media and protesters pouring into the city are going to feel the storm's strength. Isaac's top winds are 60 mph, and forecasters say it will strengthen into a hurricane tomorrow.
Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency for Florida.
At this time, the Hurricane Center forecasts Isaac could make landfall somewhere on the Florida panhandle. Hurricane conditions are already expected in southwestern Florida, and Tampa may fall into the hurricane warning zone. Even if hurricane-force winds don't strike the low-lying city, it's vulnerable to flooding and storm surges, Reuters notes. Roads and bridges would be closed, making it difficult and dangerous for residents (and delegates) to get around.
One person has called off his Tampa trip: Vice President Joe Biden. He was going to the city to campaign for the Democratic ticket while the Republicans prepare to nominate Mitt Romney as their presidential candidate. Citing disaster preparedness concerns, the Obama campaign postponed Biden's visit so Tampa police officials can focus on safety for residents and people attending the convention.