- (Photo: Reuters/Maglio Perez)
Tropical Storm Isaac, predicted to become a hurricane, forced GOP officials to cancel the first day of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. scheduled for Monday, when the party was to officially name Mitt Romney as the presidential nominee.
Although Isaac is not likely to directly hit Tampa, it is expected to lash the city with rain and strong winds Monday, according to the National Hurricane Center. Responding to the threat, convention officials have said they will convene the 40th GOP convention briefly on Monday, then immediately recess until Tuesday afternoon, when the storm will have passed.
Fla. Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, declared a state of emergency in the state on Saturday. And hours later, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus issued a statement saying Monday's scheduled activities had been canceled due to expected "severe transportation difficulties due to sustained wind and rain."
On the first day of the convention, 2,286 delegates and 2,125 alternate delegates from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories were to gather together to nominate Romney. The nomination is now likely to take place on Tuesday.
"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, exact time to follow," Priebus said. "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."
Romney strategist Russ Schriefer told reporters on a conference call that the roll call was expected to take place on Tuesday. "It will take place right around the same time that it was going to take place on Monday, really with very little change."
Romney also wrote on Twitter that the safety of those in Isaac's path was of "the utmost importance." The former Massachusetts governor also applauded those who are involved in making appropriate schedule changes in Tampa.
Gov. Scott said he had made Romney and RNC officials aware of the resources the state could provide in the chance Tampa was affected. The governor, who was scheduled to speak on Monday night, also announced he was cancelling all of his scheduled convention-related activities on Sunday and Monday.
As preparations for the schedule change were underway, Isaac was swirling north of the central coast of Cuba before dawn on Sunday, and was expected to be near or over the Florida Keys later in the day or night. The storm was then forecast to move over the southeast Gulf of Mexico by early Monday. Strengthening was expected over the next 48 hours with Isaac set to be at or near hurricane strength.
Civil Protection Office said at least four people had died in Haiti, including a 10-year-old girl who died after a wall fell on her. Nearly 8,000 people were evacuated from their houses or quake shelters and more than 4,000 were taken to temporary shelters.
Vice President Joe Biden was also forced to cancel campaign events planned for Monday and Tuesday in Tampa and elsewhere in Florida.