TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — In the end, Mitt Romney chose not to tempt fate.
With Tropical Storm Isaac bearing down on Florida, the soon-to-be Republican presidential nominee scrapped the first day of his national convention.
Top Romney aides and Republican National Committee officials scrambled late Saturday behind closed doors to shrink a four-day schedule of events into three for a convention that had been set to open with a sweeping indictment of President Barack Obama's economic stewardship. They said they hoped to begin laying out a revised schedule on Sunday, and it wasn't immediately clear what parts of the agenda would stay and what parts would go.
Nor was it clear whether there would be more delays. Romney's team was preparing for more schedule changes in case Isaac makes landfall elsewhere in Florida, requiring assistance from the brigades of police, national guard and emergency workers assigned to the convention.
Weather-related woes were always a risk when Republicans chose to hold their convention in Florida during hurricane season, a decision made well before Romney locked up the nomination.
With forecasters predicting heavy rains and powerful wind, Romney's team huddled to weigh the pros and cons of cutting the convention short as well as worst-case scenarios. Romney ended up betting that losing a day of his party was less costly than going forward with his four-day plans and angering residents of a state he needs to win.
"The safety of those in Isaac's path is of the utmost importance," campaign said in a tweet.
Insisting on a four-day affair could have put delegates' safety at risk, while tying up law enforcement and emergency officials who otherwise would be dispatched to deal with storm fallout. That would have left a black mark on the convention, with potentially lasting political consequences in a critical battleground state. Polls show Romney narrowly trailing Obama in this state, worth a giant cache of 29 Electoral College votes in a race to amass 270 needed for victory.
It didn't appear that the postponement would cost Romney much in political terms, since the television networks had already announced they would not be carrying any of Monday's events live. Because of that, Romney's team already had moved Ann Romney's convention speech — essentially her debut on the national stage — to Tuesday to ensure TV viewers would see it.
Romney was losing a night of speeches planned to castigate Obama on his handling of the economy.
"Even though the days will be abbreviated, I absolutely believe we'll be able to get our message out," senior Romney adviser Russ Schriefer, in charge of the convention's planning, said.
This wasn't the first time a GOP convention ran into hurricane-related trouble.
Four years ago, would-be GOP nominee John McCain postponed the start of the convention in St. Paul, Minn., when a Hurricane Gustav threatened Louisiana — 1,200 miles away.
The sensitivities among politicians to impending natural disasters come in the wake of 2005's devastating Gulf Coast hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the criticism Republican President George W. Bush faced for his handling of the chaos.
Mindful of the danger of appearing to put politics before safety, Vice President Joe Biden, the Obama campaign's surrogate-in-chief, canceled a campaign swing through Florida on Monday and Tuesday.
And Obama was keeping tabs on the developments from afar, and dispatching the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist.
The president had no immediate plans to visit. But he might — as most presidents do — if the damage is severe. And if he does, Romney would have to weigh whether to proceed with his convention or scrap more parts of it — and cede the limelight to the man who holds the office he wants.
In Tampa, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said the decision to start the GOP convention Tuesday was unanimous, although Romney aides said there was some vocal dissent.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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