Did the RNC jump the gun by delaying convention?
August 27th, 2012
12:00 PM ET
9 years ago

Did the RNC jump the gun by delaying convention?

(CNN) - GOP convention officials went to great lengths Sunday to cram a four-day event into three days after it canceled the gathering's Monday calendar, citing severe weather conditions from Tropical Storm Isaac.

But did they jump the gun when they first decided Saturday to delay the start of the convention?

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Those experiencing the weather in Tampa may be saying "yes."

By midday Monday, it appeared Isaac was mostly bypassing Florida's west coast, including the convention site. The storm should strengthen into a hurricane in the next day or two, but it's expected now to strike further west, anywhere between the Florida Panhandle and Louisiana.

The governors of three Gulf states–Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi–declared states of emergency, with Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley ordering mandatory evacuations for residents who live along the coast and for those in some low-lying areas inland.

According to CNN meteorologist Sarah Dillingham, sustained winds in Tampa were hovering around 20-25 miles per hour Monday morning. But these are not the tropical storm or hurricane force winds once feared. Showers and thunderstorms are still likely and may result in one to two inches of rain if the Tampa Bay area gets one of the bands from the storm.

Tampa may experience some intermittent sunshine as the bands pass through and conditions are likely to continue to improve, Dillngham said. But she added the tropical storm warning is still in effect for that part of the Florida coastline, according to the National Hurricane Center.

"They canceled it for a bad hair day," said another CNN meteorologist, Sean Morris.

When Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus announced a delayed start to the convention Saturday in the early evening, the storm had already begun shifting west, away from Tampa and toward the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

At the time, Priebus cited "severe weather reports for the Tampa Bay area" as the main reason for postponing the start time. He added that the RNC had been in contact with state, local and federal officials, as well as the Secret Service, on logistics surrounding the storm's potential impact, saying participants could encounter "severe transportation difficulties" due to the wind and rain.

"Our first priority is ensuring the safety of our delegates, our guests, members of the media attending the RNC convention and citizens of the Tampa Bay area," Priebus said.

Wind gusts in Tampa were recorded at 30 miles per hour on Saturday afternoon. At the time the RNC postponed the convention, tropical storm force winds were expected to stretch into Tampa as early as Monday morning through late Tuesday morning. Part of the storm–rain and whipping winds–slammed into the Florida Keys and the southern tip of the peninsula on Sunday.

Delaying the start of the convention was "the right thing to do," Priebus said of the now-three day gathering Sunday morning on CNN's "State of the Union."

"Everything is going to be back to normal on Tuesday," Priebus said, adding that some speeches may be shorter than originally planned.

GOP officials expect 50,000 people to attend the convention where Mitt Romney will officially accept his party's presidential nomination and make the final turn to the November election.
A new schedule was announced Sunday night, with almost all of Monday's speakers moved to new time slots that fall between Tuesday and the final day on Thursday.

"There have been a few speakers who weren't headliners that we had to let go," Romney for President Strategist Russ Schriefer said on the call.

Earlier Sunday, GOP officials signaled they were considering making an extension to the convention by holding events on Friday, but the new schedule does not include any events for that day.

"We are not considering a Friday session," convention organizers told reporters. "However we have a weather event. We'll watch the weather and if because of the weather something has to change, we'll let you know."

- CNN's Ashley Killough, Gregory Wallace and CNN Wire Staff contributed to this report.

soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Vader

    Better safe than sorry.

    August 26, 2012 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  2. Feed the greed

    The republicans don't get much right, but on this issue had they not prepared and storm Isaac hit the convention, the press would have had a field day. There is no story here but that Reince got one right. There's a first time for everything.

    August 26, 2012 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  3. drake mallard

    jump the gun like wmd in iraq? or on December 20, 2011, Mitt Romney told Bill O'Reilly that America should prepare for a war with Iran.

    He won't be sending his 5 sons to iran.

    War on the middle class, women, other countries. We need to reject this
    candidate and vote for a much more sane foreign and domestic policy.

    August 26, 2012 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  4. J.V.Hodgson

    We, media just lost a day at the convention to fill out our political blogs and live tv reporting Awe shucks!!

    August 26, 2012 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  5. Steve Hussein Obama

    They should just postpone the entire convention altogether! Nothing but more lies and delusions will be breed there anyway!

    August 27, 2012 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  6. mig

    Good for "Isaac"! These blowhard liars have nothing to say any way!

    August 27, 2012 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  7. Max Powers

    An "act of God" is delaying the RNC convention. Irony much?

    August 27, 2012 03:54 am at 3:54 am |
  8. FedUpwithLA

    Nice to see that Nature still rules . . .

    August 27, 2012 04:17 am at 4:17 am |
  9. Ken

    no, it was not premature... if they waited until sunday night to decide whether to have a convention start on monday, thousands more people would be in Tampa, if the storm had been striking there on Monday, everyone would be talking about their lack of good judgement. They gave up a day of fun in exchange for ensuring the safety of thousands of delegates, politicians, and family members. It isn't often I give the GOP credit for doing the right thing, but in this case, erring on the side of caution was prudent, reasonable, and timely.

    August 27, 2012 04:31 am at 4:31 am |
  10. tj

    Large events need the support of local government to take place, and in this case the Mayor of Tampa just days ago called for it's cancellation. So this story should be pulled or rewritten, it's bias is evident; therefore it is propaganda and not the "fair" reporting of facts.

    from sunny Tampa

    August 27, 2012 05:00 am at 5:00 am |
  11. 200 ton hammer

    no they did not jump the gun on this one they actually was thinking ahead as a safety precautions for the rnc supporters
    wish that they could have used common sense too pass the jobs bill but this will come back and bite the main Republicans
    who have did nothing too help the American people Congress rnc side you will
    Lose your job in the mid terms election
    people are not stupid boo boo the fool Republicans

    August 27, 2012 05:27 am at 5:27 am |
  12. Marie MD

    It doesn't matter when they start it. Who cares. It's all going to be about how the President has done nothing. They just forget the norquist pledge. Anyone watch 60 Minutes last night? How does this norquist trash get away with the blackmailing and extortion of our government officials? It's pretty much my way, no raised taxes, or we fight against you when you campaign!
    Hurricane Isaac is the king this week.
    Poor mccain. He thinks the hurricane is going to hurt the party of he11 no. I think your members have done a pretty good job themselves.

    August 27, 2012 07:14 am at 7:14 am |