Tropical Storm Forces GOP Convention Delay

In Tampa, plans for the first day of the Republican National Convention have been scrapped because of Tropical Storm Isaac. Convention organizers say safety is their first concern and forecasters are warning there will be strong winds and heavy rain in the city Monday. NPR's Jeff Brady reports that's prompting organizers to wait until Tuesday to begin.

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer. In Tampa, plans for the first day of the 2012 Republican National Convention have been scrapped because of Tropical Storm Isaac. The storm is turning its way toward the Florida Keys on a track to the northern Gulf Coast. Forecasters say Isaac could grow into a Category 2 hurricane capable of wind speeds up to 100 miles an hour. The National Hurricane Center has issued hurricane warnings for the Keys and the western part of Florida. Republican National Convention organizers say safety is their first concern and NPR's Jeff Brady reports that's prompting the GOP to wait until Tuesday to begin.

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: After a year-and-a-half of preparations here in Tampa, Republicans wanted all eyes focused on the upcoming nomination of the presumed GOP candidate for president, Mitt Romney. But with Tropical Storm Isaac barreling through the Caribbean and headed into the Gulf of Mexico, attention is focused on weather forecasters instead. Ed Rappaport is deputy director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

ED RAPPAPORT: Once the storm passes by the Keys, it will continue on towards the Northwest ultimately making a final landfall, it would appear, on the North Gulf Coast on Tuesday or Wednesday.

BRADY: Before then, it'll pass by Tampa on Monday. The center of the storm likely will be well west of the city. Still, forecasters say it'll bring plenty of rain and wind. That could make transportation difficult for the estimated 70,000 people in town for the convention. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a written statement the convention will still technically convene on Monday, but then immediately recess until Tuesday afternoon. Among those scheduled to speak Monday was Florida Governor Rick Scott. He's canceled all his convention-related activities for today and tomorrow and said he's going to focus on responding to the storm instead. This is the second Republican convention in a row to be disrupted by Gulf Coast weather. In 2008, Hurricane Gustav was bearing down on the coast just as delegates met in St. Paul, Minnesota. Then, as now, organizers chose to delay the start of their convention by one day. Jeff Brady, NPR News, Tampa.

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