Darren Richardson

Aug. 26, 2012

For the second time in four years, extreme weather has played a role in the opening of the Republican National Convention. But unlike four years ago when the Republicans convened in St. Paul, they ’re right in the eye of the storm this year in Tampa.

With extreme weather expected to batter Florida Monday and perhaps into Tuesday, the cheery political climate inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum would have been a sobering contrast to the wrath of Mother Nature outside. On a strangely ironic note, the GOP is holding its convention on the home turf of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning and the Arena Football League’s Tampa Bay Storm.

GOP Chairman Reince Priebus posted a memo on the party’s website Saturday evening stating that this year’s Republican National Convention would convene Monday, then immediately recess until a yet-to-be determined time Tuesday afternoon.

“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,” Priebus’ memo said.

In 2008, Republicans toned down the first night of the John McCain-Sarah Palin nominating convention out of respect for the potentially devastating situation developing along the Gulf Coast as Hurricane Gustav made landfall. Thankfully, Gustav weakened, and the Republicans were able to take care of business the next three nights. This year, it’s Tropical Storm Isaac – which could strengthen into a hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center – that’s forcing the GOP to adjust the schedule.

As of early Sunday morning, The National Weather Service was reporting that Isaac was expected to move “near or over the Florida Keys Sunday or Sunday night." Hurricane and tropical storm watches and warnings remain in effect for much of the Florida coast.

Meanwhile, Politico is reporting that most events are scheduled to go on today, including the official GOP welcoming party and Ron Paul’s rally at the University of South Florida’s Sun Dome, saying that 10,000 people are expected to attend. Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson spoke at the Sun Dome Saturday, and Paul will address the crowd today in what the New York Times is describing as “a valedictory rally” for the 77-year-old Texas congressman.

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Sources linked to within text.