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 (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
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2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
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3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
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4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
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5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
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7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
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9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
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10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
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11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
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12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
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13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
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14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
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15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
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16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
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17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
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18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
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19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
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20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
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21. Bae #retailtherapy
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22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
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23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
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24. Diggy Simmons
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25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
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26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
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27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
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28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
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29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
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30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
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31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
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