TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Republican officials abruptly announced plans last night to scrap the first day of their national convention, bowing to a threat posed by Tropical Storm Isaac, churning toward Florida.
“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,” party chairman Reince Priebus said in an e-mailed announcement that followed private conversations involving presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign, security officials and others.
Priebus added that forecasters have predicted that convention-goers “may encounter severe transportation difficulties due to sustained wind and rain” tomorrow, the day the convention had been scheduled to open.
The announcement said that while the convention would officially be gaveled into session tomorrow as scheduled, the day’s events would be cancelled until Tuesday.
That meant Romney’s formal nomination would be postponed by a day, from tomorrow to Tuesday, but the balance of the days of political pageantry and speechmaking would go on as scheduled.
The former Massachusetts governor campaigned in battleground Ohio during the day, pledging to help women entrepreneurs and innovators who are eager to create small businesses and the jobs that go with them. It was an economy-themed countdown to the Republican National Convention taking shape in a city already bristling with security — and bracing for a possible hurricane.
“Women in this country are more likely to start businesses than men. Women need our help,” said the Republican presidential challenger, eager to relegate recent controversy over abortion to the sidelines and make the nation’s slow economic recovery the dominant issue of his convention week.
The former Massachusetts governor campaigned with running mate Paul Ryan in battleground Ohio as delegates arrived in Florida by the planeload. Across town, technicians completed the conversion of a hockey arena along Tampa Bay into a red, white and blue-themed convention hall.