TAMPA, Fla. -- Mitt Romney will make a detour to Louisiana on Friday to see the damage from Hurricane Isaac, intending to show compassion for victims of the storm.
The last-minute addition to the schedule follows four days in which the Republican National Convention was held captive by the storm. Organizers canceled Monday’s opening session as the storm brushed past Tampa, then held three days of convention activities during which repeated pleas were made to delegates to contribute to storm relief efforts.
By visiting quickly and in person, Romney is clearly seeking to avoid the sort of criticism that President George W. Bush faced in 2005 when he surveyed areas damaged by Hurricane Katrina during a flyover on Air Force One.
During the 2008 election, Republican nominee John McCain similarly sought to create distance from Bush — visiting the lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans and telling residents he wanted to assure them that “never again will a disaster of this nature be handled in the terrible and disgraceful way it was handled.”
Fresh off his convention speech, the Republican nominee will arrive in the gulf before President Obama has toured the area. He will meet with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and with first responders to thank them for their work.
The schedule of Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul D. Ryan, remains unchanged. He will head to a Richmond campaign event after a joint rally with Romney in Lakeland, Fla., Friday morning.
A campaign aide said that Jindal extended the invitation to Romney.