Per the Tampa Bay Times, “in partnership with Politico”:
TAMPA — The first day of the Republican National Convention was canceled Saturday because of the approaching threat of Tropical Storm Isaac, which forecasters expect to become Hurricane Isaac as it creeps up Florida’s Gulf Coast and begins lashing the bay area overnight tonight.
Party officials made the decision after consulting Gov. Rick Scott and other local, state and federal officials. They fear the wind and rain could be so bad by Monday that it would make conditions too risky to transport delegates staying in Pinellas County hotels.
Delegates would have to ride high-profile buses across bay area bridges into Hillsborough County, assuming the storm hasn’t already shut the bridges down.
“We’re not going to put delegates on a bunch of buses on bridges between Clearwater and St. Petersburg,” said Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, “when we can’t predict how severe the wind is going to be and how bad the damage will be.” …
Anybody else suspect that Chairman Reince “RNC PR BS” Priebus would just as happily reduce the Tampa convention to a three-hour, pre-edited prime time package — just so as to avoid unpredictablity and other bad damage, and I don’t mean from the weather?
… Officials said tonight’s private kickoff party at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg is still on. Set to begin at 6 p.m., it is expected to draw 20,000 delegates, dignitaries and journalists.
Saturday’s developments were reminiscent of 2008, when the GOP canceled the first day of its convention in Minnesota because Hurricane Gustav hit the Gulf Coast…
The first day of the convention was not set to be broadcast on network television. Monday’s featured speaker was to be former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Also set to speak were House Speaker John Boehner, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and one Democrat: Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn….
Yeeeaah, these are all good speakers for firing up The Base in private; for attracting the low-information ‘independent’ voter just tuning in after ignoring all political talk for the last two/four/twelve years, not so much. Also, how many reporters will file stories starting with ‘jokes’ about how the elements just don’t seem to respect the RNC any more?
… The convention is expected to draw 50,000 delegates, journalists and others to the Tampa Bay area. As officials across the state prepared for the approaching storm, delegates continued to arrive at Tampa International Airport.
Jerry Lathan, 56, a delegate and contractor from Mobile, Ala., said he’s not concerned with the storm. He said he brought rain gear with him and he’ll enjoy having Monday off.
“There’s plenty to do here. We’ll have fun,” Lathan said. …
Insert your own jokes about a middle-aged guy in a raincoat looking to have fun in a town famous for its titty bars.
… While GOP leaders opted for a one-day cancellation, protest leaders said their ranks remain undeterred.
“The only thing that could get us to call things off is if the Republicans leave town,” said Jared Hamil, spokesman for Monday’s Coalition to March on the RNC.
The Coalition March, the largest permitted protest, promised to draw more than 5,000 people for a march through downtown.
“People are already here and they’re still arriving,” Hamil said. “The march will go on, rain or shine.”
The Rev. Bruce Wright, a local activist who helped organize the 2,000-strong Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign march for Monday, said it was too soon to see how the storm would affect their plans. He said protest groups need to balance their safety with losing their chance to be seen and heard at the convention.
“We’re still going to march,” Wright said. “If we have to change that plan, we’ll do it later, when we can better tell how the storm is going to affect us.”
Tara Colon, a protester at the “Romneyville” encampment of pink tents behind the Army Navy Surplus Market on N Tampa Street, said people there will see how bad it gets before deciding to stage protests. But other members of the camp seemed emboldened.
“That leaves the convention center open for us,” John Penley said. “That’s where we plan to go.”…
And there will be a lot of media people looking for a story to cover — not just political reporters, but all those meteorologists contractually obliged to find eyeball-attracting photo ops full of local color as they put on their own rain gear for yet another thirty-second spot assuring their viewing market that tropical storms bring wind, rain, and unpredictability. Here’s hoping that the weather, over the next few days, brings only minimal damage to Floridians and maximal meme-friendly viral-marketing damage to the RNC!