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Fears over Hurricane Isaac cancel Monday night’s events at Republican National Convention


Dave Martin / Associated Press

Anthony Batri, from Largo, Fla., unfurls banners as preparations are made ahead of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012.

Hurricane Isaac still may not hit Tampa, Fla., but the storm has the GOP spooked enough that they’re calling off Monday evening’s events at the Republican National Convention.

“Our first priority is ensuring the safety of delegates, alternates, guests, members of the media attending the Republican National Convention,” RNC chairman Reince Priebus said in an announcement Saturday afternoon. “But our convention will proceed.”

Priebus promised that presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan would be nominated, and that the assembly would address “other necessary business.” But he also indicated there would be scheduling changes, to be announced later.

Gov. Brian Sandoval

Gov. Brian Sandoval

That has potentially serious implications for Nevada, as Gov. Brian Sandoval was scheduled to speak to the convention Monday during prime time. With one less day to convene, it’s going to be difficult to squeeze in every speaker.

An RNC spokesman said that officials were working on folding the Monday schedule into the rest of the week, but wouldn’t have details until Sunday.

Monday evening was also when state delegations were going to be registering their official votes for candidates; now, it appears the earliest that could take place is Tuesday afternoon.

The RNC plans to convene on Monday and then immediately adjourn until Tuesday afternoon, once the course of the storm has passed.

That seems to be just fine with the majority of the Nevada delegation, who, as Ron Paul supporters, have been trying to rouse enough partners in other delegations to get Paul’s name on the ballot, an achievement that would guarantee the candidate a 15-minute speech at the convention.

Click to enlarge photo

A man looks out at the beach as Tropical Storm Isaac approaches in Barahona, Dominican Republic, Friday, Aug. 24, 2012. Fears over the storm have forced the GOP to cancel Monday evening's events at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.

Chances were looking pretty slim Saturday; so to the Ron Paul supporters, the scheduling announcement came as a glimmer of hope.

“It gives us a little more time,” said Carl Bunce, a Nevada delegate. “Them scheduling us on Monday left us little to organize with other states.... This give us an extra day to communicate and help people understand what’s going on.”

“I hope they push everything back, so it doesn’t conflict with the Ron Paul events,” said Pat Kerby, who added that the idea of quickly convening on Monday still made him “suspicious” that the RNC might pull something sneaky to deny them their moment if people decided not to show for a pro forma session.

But the risk seems fairly real. Hurricane Isaac has already crossed over Haiti and Cuba and is expected to drench the Florida Keys and pass close to Tampa before ultimately hitting land near Pensacola on the Florida Panhandle. Florida Gov. Rick Scott has already declared a state of emergency, and flights to Tampa were shuttling in Red Cross volunteers alongside convention-goers Saturday.

The path of the storm may jeopardize flights of anyone who was planning to fly into Florida late on Sunday, but until then, things are proceeding as normal. The RNC announced no plans to cancel its opening ceremonies on Sunday evening; neither did Ron Paul supporters say they would cancel their rally event Sunday afternoon.

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