Politics 2012: Romney to be nominated as Isaac rains on RNC

By NICOLE DEBEVEC, United Press International
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will be the star attraction at this week's Republican National Convention, which convenes Monday. Aug. 13 file photo. UPI/Gary I Rothstein
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will be the star attraction at this week's Republican National Convention, which convenes Monday. Aug. 13 file photo. UPI/Gary I Rothstein | License Photo

The quadrennial Republican National Convention this week in Tampa, Fla., features a rock-star lineup to invigorate the crowd as Mitt Romney prepares to convince voters "A Better Future" is within their grasp with him as president.

But Mother Nature, in the form of Tropical Storm Isaac, forced GOP officials to push back the festivities a day.


GOP leader Reince Priebus, in a statement posted Saturday on the Republican National Committee's Web site, said because of the fast-approaching storm, leaders decided to convene the convention Monday, then immediately recess until Tuesday afternoon.

"Our first priority is ensuring the safety of delegates, alternates, guests, members of the media attending the Republican National Convention, and citizens of the Tampa Bay area," Priebus said.

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Convention officials and the Romney campaign were working with federal, state and local officials to monitor Isaac's movements and are "in constant contact with state and federal officials and may make additional schedule alterations as needed," he said.


New-guard Republicans are scheduled to speak. Blunt-talking New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is a keynote speaker. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., son libertarian-leaning Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, the last holdout in the primary season, also is speaking.

But former President George W. Bush will skip the convention and Sarah Palin, the party's 2008 vice presidential candidate, won't be at the podium.

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The theme of the 2012 Republican National Convention is "A Better Future," Priebus said in a recent release, explaining, "Americans are ready for a new direction."

Priebus said Americans will learn about the priorities, experience and "know-how" of the party's nominees "and their plans to secure a better future for our country."

"This convention will bring together Americans from every corner of the country and every walk of life," convention Chief Executive Officer William Harris said in a release. "Whatever their background, wherever they're from, they know too well that our country faces serious problems. But they also know that the American people have confronted difficult challenges before, and that together, with strong leadership, we can overcome those challenges and secure a better future for generations to come."


Just days before the convention was to begin Monday, GOP officials and the Mitt Romney campaign reached agreement with Ron Paul's campaign to allow some, but not all, of Paul's delegates from Louisiana and Massachusetts to be seated, National Public Radio reported last week. Still up in the air was whether Maine's delegates were in or out.

Paul's supporters have floated the possibility of shaking up the proceedings to show support for the Texan. The disqualification of Paul delegates from Maine, Louisiana and Massachusetts led to charges from some quarters that politics played a role in their ouster.

Scores of Paul supporters -- uncertain about the level of participation they would be allowed by the Romney campaign and the RNC would allow -- now will be in Tampa for the convention.

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Christie said he would use to his 20-minute address to discuss the opportunity Republicans have in Tampa "to make clear that if we tell each other the hard truths, tackle the big problems, and make bold choices, we will see America's comeback."

Of Romney's rivals along the way to the Republican nomination, only former senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania was invited to speak.


The party will also work to feature the rising stars party leaders believe will broaden the GOP's appeal with women and Latinos, The Washington Post reported. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida will introduce Romney, and Govs. Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Nikki Haley of South Carolina are scheduled to speak.

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"The agenda of speakers reflect the priorities the campaign has going into the fall," Republican strategist Ron Bonjean told the Post. "If they were to put someone out there who was not helpful, who was off message or a loud mouth, it would do nothing but hurt their efforts."

But followers don't have to be in Tampa to participate in the convention, RNC officials said.

The 2012 edition features a "Convention without Walls" that uses all available communications platforms and technology "to create a nationwide discussion about America's future and Mitt Romney's plans to strengthen the economy and create new jobs," Harris said.

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"Wherever you live, whatever device you use, we want you to engage as an active participant in this convention," Harris said.

The Tampa Tribune reported about 10 days before the convention the host city spent nearly all of a $50 million federal grant awarded to help pay for security.


About $26.1 million is being spent to pay for the approximately 3,500 law enforcement officers from across Florida who will be on hand.

Tampa also spent $11.6 million for technology and cameras, $3.3 million for equipment, $2 million for insurance and nearly $800,000 for vehicles, the Tribune said.

Democrats won't be on the sidelines during the Republicans' showcase.

The Hill reported President Obama and other leading Democrats have scheduled campaign events, going against the typical gentleman's agreement of laying low during their opponent's nominating soiree.

"Traditionally, there was a kind of courtesy extended to the party having the convention -- the [other] party would basically stay out of the public eye," Ross Baker, political science professor at Rutgers University, told the Washington publication.

But that tradition basically became a victim of "of the polarization of American politics," Baker said.

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