GOP convention moving forward with three-day schedule


TAMPA, Fla. – Despite revised storm predictions that see Tropical Storm Isaac making landfall as a hurricane near New Orleans on Tuesday or Wednesday, Republican convention organizers say they are going ahead with a three-day schedule for the gathering that leaves the marquee lineup intact each night.

Briefing reporters Sunday evening, Romney campaign strategist Russ Schriefer acknowledged the threat posed by Isaac to the Gulf Coast, saying that officials would continue monitoring the “weather event.” Still, the GOP will press ahead with the abbreviated proceedings by extending the evening session to four hours while scaling back the speaker lineup to squeeze four days of events into three.

Speakers not deemed “headliners” were “let go” to accommodate the new schedule, Schriefer said. Also, Monday’s theme of “We Can Do Better,” meant to spotlight what Republicans see as President Obama’s failed record on the economy, will be incorporated into the remaining nights.

Monday’s session was called off Saturday, when the forecasted track for the storm was closer to the Tampa area. The host city still expects severe weather in the area Monday, and attendees have been urged to limit unnecessary travel.

But the revised track, with Isaac now bearing down on the very city that was dealt a crippling blow by Hurricane Katrina, may complicate the Romney campaign and the Republican Party’s showcase event.

“We all know that the weather event is there,” Schriefer said. “Our concern has to be with the people who are in the path of the storm. All of this is taken into consideration. And as soon as we have any more information that may affect what we do in terms of the program or any kind of schedule, we’ll let you know. Until we know that, until we can predict the weather, we’re going to continue with a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday schedule.”

The lineup for the 10 p.m. hour each night – the one that will reach the widest audience on cable and broadcast television networks – remains unchanged. Ann Romney and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the keynote speaker, will speak Tuesday. Wednesday features former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and vice presidential nominee Paul D. Ryan.

The lineup for Wednesday also includes, for the moment, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Jindal has declared a state of emergency in his state in advance of the storm.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio will precede the acceptance speech for Mitt Romney on Thursday evening.
Also unchanged is the campaign itinerary for President Obama, who is to visit college towns in Colorado, Iowa and Virginia on Tuesday and Wednesday. Obama was briefed on the storm Sunday.

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