Tampa spared, but Louisiana delegates look homewards
August 27th, 2012
03:13 PM ET
2 years ago

Tampa spared, but Louisiana delegates look homewards

Wesley Chapel, Florida (CNN) – Tropical Storm Isaac may have spared the convention halls in Tampa, but a potentially devastating path through Louisiana has delegates from the Bayou State closely monitoring the situation back home.

At a delegate breakfast outside Tampa Monday, several tables remained empty, an indication that some Louisiana Republicans were headed home to secure their property as Isaac drew closer. Those that remained for the Republican National Convention said they were praying the storm wouldn't bring the same levels of destruction that have ravaged parts of the state in the past.

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"Our thoughts and our prayers go out to people back home, but I will tell you that they're in good hands and now we'll just have to see where this storm is going and put our faith in God that we're going to all come through it fine," said Mike Strain, Louisiana's agriculture commissioner, at Monday's breakfast. "In the meantime you have a job to do. You have a job to get our next president nominated."

Strain was slated to return to Louisiana Monday afternoon after signing the appropriate paperwork handing his delegate responsibilities to an alternate.

Isaac's path mimics the route taken by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, though this year's storm is much weaker. Its arrival during the Republican National Convention also brings to mind Hurricane Gustav in 2008, a category 2 hurricane that made landfall near Cocodrie, Louisiana. Organizers of the 2008 GOP convention in Minneapolis scrapped the first day of their confab, saying it would be insensitive to people in the Gulf to hold the political event.

In 2012, the first day of the Tampa convention has also been cancelled, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, scheduled to speak at the Republican Convention, cancelled his appearance for the second time to lead his state during a storm.

"Four years ago we were in Minneapolis," George White, the chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party, said Monday. "So the people who say we shouldn't have picked Tampa for our convention because of a hurricane are so wrong because four years ago we were in Minneapolis and we were doing the same thing."

Suzanne Terrell, a Republican delegate who challenged Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu in 2002, said the GOP convention should continue as planned, but that the weather back home was weighing heavily on the Louisiana delegation.

"I have family back home and I told them I was going to head back home, and they just said 'Stay where you are,'" Terrell said Monday.

The timing of the convention, Terrell said, seemed to make extreme weather unavoidable.

"I think maybe we need to move the convention to June, because it doesn't seem to matter where it is, Florida or Minneapolis, we're going to have a hurricane," she said with a laugh.

Adonica Duggen, who delivered an invocation at Monday's breakfast, said afterwards that going home to Louisiana wouldn't be useful, either for her family or for the GOP.

"I think it's been said by a lot of the RNC officials that it's hard to have a party when you have your citizens at home that are going through something that's a tragedy," Duggen said. "I think that for Louisiana people we know that the political part of it's important, what we're here for, but it is hard to celebrate in some ways when you have your heart in a different place."

Mike Bayham was going with a similar strategy. The GOP delegate said he was "keeping an eye on the hurricane track, getting in touch with all my family and friends that are evacuating."

"And praying. A lot of prayer," Bayham added. "As long as everybody gets out all right, that's all that matters. Everything else is just stuff. Property damage, it hurts. I lost so much with Katrina, between the oil spill and the storm, but fortunately all my relatives made it out alright. That's what matters the most."

Fighting tears, Lynn Skidmore said memories of Katrina resurface when storms like Isaac pass through New Orleans, where she lives.

"It's just that it brings back such bad memories and we don't need that, we don't need that. New Orleans doesn't need it," she said. "We have started to recover, we are well on our way to recovery, the buildings have come back and I think the people, the people of new Orleans are so strong but we don't want it again. There's nothing we can do except wait and see."

– CNN's Dana Bash and Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • Louisiana • Republican National Convention
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Marie MD

    Mn the flake with the in the closet husband. Florida the Medicare fraud doctor now governor.
    Maybe instead of all that praying "you people" need to look inside yourselves nd your pathetic leaders like norquist!

    August 27, 2012 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    I am not certain about the wisdom of the long trips from Tampa to the projected land fall zones at this time.

    August 27, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  3. BostonianNTheWoodlandsTX

    I'm glad this is not a bad storm,but if this were another CAT 5, I'd like to see Jindal turn down federal help and money.

    It'd be interesting to see who would be the first to have the freaking nerve to stick their hand out for some help from the feds if this were a CAT 5.

    As it is, it is not and hopefully everyone will make it through with no issues.

    August 27, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  4. PJ/TX

    First, we are all praying for you and anyone else in harm's way. A stark reminder that we need to keep our
    environment as pristine as possible, protect the air, water, land and wild animals as best we can, because we have
    no control over Mother Nature, and we don't need to add to the destruction because we are greedy and petty.
    That said,
    @Marie MD:
    I saw 60 minutes too, and agree with you. Anyone who could listen to Norquist and not walk away disgusted
    is not thinking. I worry about the Republicans. They have so many rings to kiss and so many pledges to sign,
    how they can pretend to be on the side of the American people and do the right thing.

    August 27, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    Remember 2011? Cantor not voting for federal funds to help with the flooding disaster in his own district? Rick Perry complaining about not getting federal aid for Texas wild fires when in fact the federal government was picking up 75% of the tab at the time? How quickly will the Tea Party House would vote for/against federal disaster relief and how quick those Republican southern governers would reject/accept any federal aid?

    August 27, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  6. Jane

    Two elements of this situation that highlight the ignorant, navel-gazing, hypocritical GOP: 1) there are people 'celebrating' because they prayed away the hurricane from their convention, but obviously give a rat's ass about the people in the area God "re-routed" the devastation and death to. And 2) you can bet the farm that if (God forbid) a Cat 4 or 5 hits Mississippi (and esp. Louisiana) the Republican politicians (I'm looking at you Piyush) will have their hand out for that horrible, socialistic Federal aid.

    August 27, 2012 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  7. CanadaONE

    Canadian authorities are warning travelling Canadians about 89 thousand in Florida this week to AVOID Florida "due to a BRUTAL and RECKLESS Storm that will hit the USA"

    YES they were refering to the GOP Convention – they specfically said to avoid RYAN which they described as a "brainless hurricane"

    August 27, 2012 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  8. RomneysSpeech

    Tax cuts for the rich to create jobs (in India and China), Tax cuts for the rich to increase spending in Medicare. Tax cuts for the rich to increase spending on SS. Tax cuts for the rich to increase spending on education. Tax cuts for the rich to increase spending on our infrastructure. Tax cuts for the rich to increase spending on our farmers. Tax cuts for the rich to increase spending on law enforcement. Tax cuts for the rich to increase spending on illegal immigration. Tax cuts for the rich to increase spending in research. Tax cuts for the rich to increase spending on funding two unfunded wars. Tax cuts for the rich to star another unfunded war. Tax cuts for the rich to create CAKE so the poor can just "EAT IT". Tax cuts for the rich to create the Easter Bunny.

    August 27, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  9. nkd

    You obamanites just hold out your hand and tell the (rich) to pay there (fair share) ow many of you pay your fair share?? Most of you pay NO taxes. The rich dont owe you anything and no im not rich but i dont begruge anyone who worked hard to get there!!!

    August 27, 2012 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  10. fred

    You forgot to mention that the RNC stole the representation of Louisiana from its rightful delegates.

    August 27, 2012 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  11. DB

    I wonder if the Corps thought that their ungrades for protecting the New Orleans area would be tested so soon and apparently very near the anniversary of Katrina which initiated their work.

    August 27, 2012 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |