GOP Convention Officially Opens, Then Adjourns

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Melissa Block talks to Robert Siegel about the postponed Monday opening session of the 2012 GOP convention in Tampa, Fla.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

It's day one of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. It was supposed to be a full day of speeches intended to motivate Republicans and press home the GOP's argument to America that Mitt Romney should replace President Obama. But Tropical Storm Isaac scrapped those well-choreographed plans. There was an opening session, though, just about 10 minutes.

My co-host Robert Siegel joins me now from the convention floor. And, Robert, this was a blink-and-you'll-miss-it session. What happened?

(LAUGHTER)

ROBERT SIEGEL, BYLINE: That's right, Melissa. Ten minutes is the long version of it. There was about 10 minutes of activity here in the Tampa Bay Times Forum. But the official session, though, was much shorter than that. And now, you know, just for the history books, let's hear the entire session of the Republican National Convention today. Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, took the podium at 2 o'clock, and here's what he said:

(SOUNDBITE OF REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION)

REINCE PRIEBUS: So it is my privilege to proclaim the 2012 Republican National Convention in session and called to order. The chair announces pursuant to Clause 12, Paren B, Paren 1 of Rule 1 of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 2012 Republican National Convention stands in recess subject to the call of the chair.

SIEGEL: And that was it. There followed an invocation, a Romney video, a moment of silence in support of all those who are working to protect the Gulf Coast from Tropical Storm or Hurricane Isaac. And Reince Priebus drew our attention to two digital clocks that are ticking away here above the convention floor. One measures the U.S. national debt - well over 15 trillion dollars - and the other measures the debt accrued since the convention began. And after that first gavel came down, it added another million dollars in that minute or so of the session.

BLOCK: Well, by losing today's session, Robert, that means they have to collapse the rest of it into three days. How are they doing that?

SIEGEL: They'll do it by compressing the speeches. It seems that everybody who is scheduled to speak will speak. There had been some question about former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, but he's in the schedule. And so everyone will just speak a little shorter.

One of the aims here at this convention, as at every convention, is to generate enthusiasm among the party faithful for the ticket. And one person who really does very well in the enthusiasm department will not be speaking. Ron Paul turned down an invitation to address the convention because it required his full-throated endorsement of the ticket, and it also required his remarks being vetted by the Republican National Committee. But if you are looking for enthusiasm in this city, look no farther than the Ron Paul camp.

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