Republican Convention Starting? — Must be a Hurricane (Isaac, Gustav)

Photograph by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Putting up a security fence around the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 23, 2012 as they wait for Tropical Storm Isaac.

It’s worth taking note of Isaac’s veering course.

Yet it’s worth remembering what Isaac and Gustav have in common:

Ominous beads on the northern Gulf of Mexico coast at the opening of a Republican National Convention.

The opening of the party’s convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 2008 was delayed for the better part of a day in respect for the people of the Gulf Coast (remember, this is the party of then-President George W. Bush, famous for making a lonely Air Force One flyover of New Orleans in his first pass over the Hurricane Katrina-ravaged city.)

The party’s presidential nominee, Senator John McCain, warned then that it “just wouldn’t be appropriate” to have a party amid a natural disaster. (Gulf-Coast Republican governors, Charlie Crist of Florida and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, also had business to attend to at home.)

The party is convening another convention Monday in Tampa, and cable news has breathlessly focused on the path of an Atlantic storm several days away, Isaac. This is likely to keep another Florida governor, Rick Scott, at work in Tallahassee when his party convenes in Tampa.

As five-day predictions for the path of Tropical Storm Isaac today push it westward into the Gulf, Scott declared that to be a “positive” move.  (Tell that to New Orleans.)

Convention organizers “make their own decisions” about delays or cancellations, Scott said at a news conference today in Tallahassee.  Republican officials in Tampa are moving “forward with our planning” for the convention’s start while keeping “in regular contact with the National Weather Service,” William Harris, convention president and CEO, said in a statement today. Scott and local officials “have assured us that they have the resources in place to respond to this storm should it make landfall, as our primary concern is with those in the potential path of the storm,.”

More than 50,000 people are expected to visit the Tampa Bay area as Republicans hold a four-day convention to nominate Mitt Romney as their presidential candidate, according to James Davis, a convention spokesman.  The Tampa Bay Times Forum, site of the gathering, is in an evacuation zone once the storm reaches 96 miles per hour, a category 2 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, according to the Hillsborough County Hurricane Guide.

Isaac  is a mere tropical storm at this stage, with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (it takes 74 to make a hurricane). And the National Hurricane Center has posted hurricane warnings for Haiti and the Dominican Republican, suggesting that Isaac could become a Category One storm by landfall there (74-95 mph).

Category One is not a lot to worry about (see the Saffir-Simpson Scale and its predictions of damage here). Should the storm continue veering west into the Gulf, the effect of its outer bands on Tampa should be lesser — we’re suggesting rain slickers for delegates here. Should it veer eastward again, well, we’ll have to see.

However, the Northern Gulf Coast could be in for some trouble mid-week  if Isaac finds strength in the warm Gulf waters.

Gustav made landfall near Cocodrie, Louisiana, at 9:30 am CDT on Sept. 2, 2008, as a strong category Two (110 mph sustained winds) Gustav continued northwest, spreading hurricane force wind gusts across portions of Southeast and South Central Louisiana.

The 2008 convention went on.

Political Capital predicts the same for the convention of 2012.

Michael C. Bender in Tallahassee and Jim Rowley in Washington contributed to this report. 

What do you think about this article? Comment below!