SAN DIEGO, August 25, 2012 – The threat posed by Tropical Storm Isaac churning toward Florida has forced Republican Party officials to cancel the first day of its national convention.
Party chairman Reince Priebus made the announcement via email on Saturday after reported discussions with former Governor Mitt Romney’s campaign, security officials, and Florida preparedness officials. He said the likelihood of convention attendees facing severe transportation difficulties due to sustained wind and rain predicted by forecasters caused officials to suspend Monday’s events.
The convention will be officially opened as scheduled, and then formally tabled until Tuesday afternoon.
At this point, Romney’s formal nomination will be moved back one day to Tuesday, but the lion’s share of the political events and speeches are still scheduled to go on as planned, though officials will keep a watchful eye on the weather.
A hurricane warning is currently in effect for the Florida Keys as of 8 pm. Eastern Time.
Priebus issued the following statement on the decision:
“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.
“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. RNC Convention officials and the Romney campaign are working closely with state, local and federal officials, as well as the Secret Service, to monitor Tropical Storm Isaac and preserve Florida’s emergency management resources. Officials have predicted participants may encounter severe transportation difficulties due to sustained wind and rain.
“The Republican National Convention will take place and officially nominate Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, and the Party has other necessary business it must address. We also are remaining in constant contact with state and federal officials and may make additional schedule alterations as needed.
“The Convention staff is working around-the-clock to ensure the delegations housed in storm-impacted areas have alternative housing if needed. The Committee on Arrangements will provide additional information to delegates and alternate delegates who are affected by Isaac by Sunday morning. We will also provide guidance to those delegates and alternate delegates who may encounter travel difficulties due to the storm.
“We will begin issuing revised convention programming as early as Sunday.
“We have an experienced team that will ensure changes are operationally smooth and create as little disruption as possible. The most important concern is safety, but our Convention program will proceed.”
According to the schedule outlined in Communities at Washington Times by Catherine Poe, the Monday schedule was to have included speeches by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, Texas Senate candidate and Tea Party flag bearer Ted Cruz, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, House Speaker John Boehner, and Virginia Governor Bob McConnell. Also in the mix: Donald Trump, who says he’s planned “a surprise.” Surprise Mr. Trump, you need to change your plans.
Florida Governor Rick Scott took himself out of the lineup today, cancelling his plans to attend the GOP convention today as Isaac heads toward his state. Scott’s staff announced Governor Scott was canceling his speech Monday night, stressing that he wanted to focus the state’s attention on all the areas that may need help, not just the Tampa Bay area.
Isaac has apparently blown apart the GOP’s plan to quietly introduce the party platform without TV cameras rolling on Monday, with some provisions sure to be controversial including an abortion ban plank with exceptions only for rape and incest.
As explained in a previous Communities at Washington Times column, should the situation call for the most drastic action – cancellation of the convention outright – the Republican Party has contingency plans in place to ensure the nomination of former Governor Romney and his running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, still officially takes place.
Former California State Republican Party chairman Ron Nehring explains while the nomination would take place with or without a convention, it would be slightly more complicated. The pomp and circumstances and TV exposure turn instead to paperwork, and lots of it.
First, the 168 formal members of the Republican National Committee would have to formally establish by a vote among themselves that the nomination roll call by the states could not take place; or establish a technological alternative. “The rules do not actually prescribe the exact manner in which is (the roll call) takes place,” notes Nehring.
Only the delegates can legally make the nomination. But the nomination only becomes official after a complex legal processing of documents takes place that directs the Secretary of State for each of the 50 states to place the names of the Republican Party’s Presidential and Vice Presidential candidate on each ballot, something that happens at every convention out of the public eye, behind closed doors.
Nehring told me since 9/11, party officials recognize the need for alternatives in the event of any unexpected circumstance, be it a natural disaster, terrorism, or any other event forcing cancellation of the convention. “You can bet there are contingency plans in place.” While there may not be a formal convention, Nehring assures supporters and opponents alike “There will not be one second of delay” placing the names of Romney and Ryan in contention for the White House.
Meanwhile, the delegates need to check with their airlines and rethink what they plan to pack. One thing to keep in mind: no umbrellas will be allowed anywhere near the convention site at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. They are considered too great a risk. Is anyone else amused at the thought of a whole lot of Republicans wearing hoodies to their convention?
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. Read more Media Migraine in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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