A view shows thousands of seats at the Republican National Convention as preparations continue for the delayed start of the convention in Tampa, Florida August 26, 2012.
Credits: REUTERS/JIM BOURG
WASHINGTON, DC -- Republicans are waiting a day to start their grand ol' party in Tampa because of Tropical Storm Isaac, which threatens to become a hurricane and make landfall on the eastern shore of the Gulf of Mexico as early as Monday.
The Republican National Convention was to start Monday and run all week, but over the weekend, party and state officials decided to start the events Tuesday afternoon instead.
"Due to the severe weather reports for the Tampa Bay area, the Republican National Convention is going to convene on Monday August 27th and then immediately recess until Tuesday afternoon, August 28th," GOP chairman Reince Priebus told reporters in a telephone briefing Saturday. But, he added, "the Republican convention is going to take place."
So it appears not even God can stop Mitt Romney from becoming the party's standard-bearer, which will formally occur this week.
Anarchists, too, have threatened to disrupt both the Republican and Democrat conventions, according to an intelligence bulletin from the FBI.
But threats and the weather aside, whenever the Republican convention does get underway, there is little serious business for them left to do.
Mitt Romney has been the presumptive Republican presidential candidate since April, and the general election campaign has been raging since then.
But the convention, will still offer the party a chance to energize its members, speak to Americans at large in an unfiltered way and also finalize the party and candidate's image heading into the final stretch of the election campaign.
And this year the GOP is clearly keen to promote itself as a party friendly to women, given the 10-point lead President Barack Obama has among female voters.
At the Republican convention, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and a slew of female state governors and prominent conservative women have all been given major speaking roles throughout the week.
Sarah Palin, notably, has not.
And that, too, plays into the narrative that the GOP is desperate to present itself as a party focused on the economy, not social issues that have crept up from time to time on the campaign trail so far.
What's more, the keynote speaker is New Jersey's brash -- and also moderate -- Gov. Chris Christie, who has said he'll lay out "hard truths" about the challenges America faces in his speech Tuesday night.
Speaking in Michigan on Friday, Romney himself said the convention will clearly lay out for voters what's at stake in November.
"We are not going to just talk about platitudes. We are not going to talk about small things. We are going to talk about these big challenges, and how we are going to overcome them," he said at a campaign stop. "We are going to talk about the soul of America, what makes this nation unique and exceptional in the history of the earth. And we are going to do everything in our power to bring people together -- Republicans and Democrats and Independents -- to understand that our way forward is the only way that will create strength and vitality and prosperity for all Americans, from the richest to the poorest and everyone in between."
While parties always hope to capture positive news coverage with their speeches, balloons and bells and whistles, this week's GOP convention is not without controversy.
Following on the heels of comments made by a Republican Senate candidate in Missouri about rape and abortion, the party faithful have also included in the platform a proposal to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban abortions, and the wording does not include exceptions in cases of rape or incest.
Democrats have pounced and are again trying to define the whole party as radical extremists.
But Priebus has said recently neither the party nor the candidates, including Romney, are bound by the platform in any way.
And there's also the issue of libertarian Ron Paul, who is still vying for the Republican nomination somehow, somewhere. While Paul won't be speaking at the convention, his son, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, will be, and a Ron Paul tribute video will be shown, it was decided Friday.
Also of note: When Romney officially accepts the job as Republican standard-bearer for the election, he'll get access to some $200 million already raised specifically for the general election, not for his primary campaign.
And then Romney will be off to the races -- provided he isn't swept out to sea by Hurricane Isaac beforehand.