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No ‘primary purgatory’ for Florida at Democratic convention

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012 by George Bennett

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Breakfast meetings of Florida’s Democratic and Republican convention delegations have many similarities — attractively arranged plates of food, amped-up partisan audiences, extensive bad-mouthing the other party’s nominee and a parade of speakers reminding delegates, just in case they forgot, how crucial Florida is in the presidential race.

One big difference: Florida Republican delegates heard regular jokes from visiting speakers about their lodging at the Innisbrook golf resort, 30 miles from the convention site in what Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam called “primary purgatory.” The GOP punished Florida with a distant site because the state broke party rules by scheduling its primary Jan. 31 rather than waiting until March.

Florida’s Democratic delegation, on the other hand, is housed in the Marriott City Center hotel downtown, a few blocks away from the convention site. Florida Democratic Chairman Rod Smith said the Sunshine State delegation got the site after he drew a low lottery number when states chose hotels.

Tampa mayor compares GOP, Dem conventions; rules out 2014 run for governor

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012 by George Bennett

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who as leader of the host city for last week’s Republican National Convention was the only Democrat to speak during the gathering, kept things nonpartisan while thousands of Republicans boosted his local economy.

Here, however, Buckhorn is a Democratic National Convention delegate and free to speak his partisan mind.

“As the only Democrat that spoke at the Republican convention, I was looking for the trap door when I got up there on stage. Because I figured if I said anything that sounded anything like ‘hope’ or ‘change’ I was going down. God forbid if I had said “President Obama” — they would have ejected me out of that place,” Buckhorn joked to a Florida delegation breakfast.

“Those were our fellow Americans over there in Tampa last week and they just happened to have a different opinion on things….What I didn’t see (in Tampa) is what I saw last night in the hall. What I didn’t see was an arena that looked like America,” Buckhorn said of the more racially diverse Democratic crowd.

Buckhorn, elected in 2011, is touted as a future star in the Florida Democratic Party. But he said he plans to serve his full four-year term and not run for governor in 2014.

Scott’s longtime spokesman heads to Fla GOP

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012 by John Kennedy

One of Gov. Rick Scott’s longest-serving advisers — communications chief Brian Burgess — is heading across town to the Florida Republican Party.

Burgess will be replaced by Melissa Sellers, a former spokeswoman for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Scott and Burgess go way back — working together on Conservatives for Patients Rights, the political committee the governor set up as a private citizen to work unsuccessfully on derailing the Affordable Care Act.  Burgess was by Scott’s side as the former health care executive became a longshot candidate for governor in Florida in 2010.

After Scott spent $72 million of his own money pursuing his first elected office, Burgess emerged as prime spokesman for the governor.

The Burgess move to the party has been talked of for months.

But while marking the end of an era — albeit brief — on the Capitol’s first floor, it also likely carries some larger symbolism, as well.  Scott and the party are now effectively one as he heads toward a 2014 re-election campaign.

Scott acknowledged as much in his parting comments about Burgess.

“From the very beginning, Brian has been by my side as a strategic and political adviser, a trusted aide, and loyal member of my team,” Scott said.  “His strong work ethic, strategic advice and leadership will be missed inside the administration, but he isn’t going far.  In his new role, he will continue to help tell the story to Floridians and the nation about what we’re accomplishing every day.”  

For her part, Sellers already began spinning in Florida last week — directing communication for regional media at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Before that, she was Jindal’s press secretary during his gubernatorial campaign and played the same role in the governor’s office – leaving last December.

Seller’s move across the Gulf shouldn’t be that much of a scenery change. After all, she was around Jindal for a couple hurricanes, the BP oil spill in 2010, and several budget shortfalls, according to Scott’s announcement on her hiring.

Scott welcomed her arrival. “We have an ambitious agenda to create more jobs and opportunity for the hard working people of Florida and while we have made important progress already, there is a lot of work still ahead of us,” Scott said.


Gov. Scott: ‘It’s Florida’s day to win the race’

Thursday, August 30th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott made it back to Tampa Bay in time to hear U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney cap off the Republican National Convention Thursday night.

Scott left town earlier this week to attend to Tropical Storm Isaac duties, visiting flood-ravaged Palm Beach County and the Panhandle.

“It’s great,” Scott said of his first GOP convention as he made his way through the mobbed floor of the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

“Marco’s going to give a great talk. Jeb gave a great talk on school choices. It’s a Florida night,” Scott said. “It’s Florida’s day to win the race.”

Clad in his signature dark suit and custom-made cowboy boots, Scott eschewed his VIP governor’s viewing box and instead grabbed a seat on the floor alongside the Florida delegation.

“I want to see,” he said.

after leaving town to attend to Tropical Storm Isaac duties earlier this week.

Mack: “If Mitt Romney wins, I win”

Thursday, August 30th, 2012 by John Kennedy

Republican U.S. Senate nominee Connie Mack IV brought his message Thursday to the Florida delegation to the GOP National Convention and acknowledged that his success is directly linked to the fate of presidential contender Mitt Romney in Florida.

“I think I can win, but there’s a lot of possibilities out there,” Mack told reporters. “If Mitt Romney wins, I win. If I win, Mitt Romney wins. So we are certainly going to be tied together. But see this is something I’m proud of.  I’m proud to stand next to Mitt Romney.”

Mack, who is scheduled to speak to the convention tonight — part of a lineup of Floridians which includes former Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio — told the delegation that the contrasts in the campaign is clear.  President Obama and two-term Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson are also paired, he said.  “Lockstep liberals” is what Mack has called them in TV ads, certain to fill Florida airwaves through Nov. 6.

“If I win and beat Sen. Nelson, I’ll tell you why this is important,” Mack told the Florida crowd over breakfast at the Inverness Golf Resort in Palm Harbor. “Harry Reid will no longer control the agenda in the United States Senate.”

Two RNC attendees throw peanuts at black camera woman

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012 by Dara Kam

From The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
TAMPA – CNN confirmed Wednesday that one of its black camera operators was taunted this week by two Republican National Convention attendees, who were removed by security officials.

Atlanta-based CNN said the employee was inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Tuesday night covering the convention when the two attendees began throwing nuts and saying, “This is how we feed animals.”

The cable news network said multiple witnesses saw the exchange, and RNC security and police immediately stepped in.

In a statement, convention spokesman Kyle Downey said the two conventioneers “exhibited deplorable behavior. Their conduct was inexcusable and unacceptable. This kind of behavior will not be tolerated.”

CNN said it “worked with convention officials to address this matter and will have no further comment.”

Rubio on his speech, immigration, Charlie Crist and the joy of being a home state boy

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012 by Dara Kam

After a brief sound check onstage at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio was crushed by a media scrum anxious to hear the GOP rising star wax on about everything from Charlie Crist’s endorsement of President Barack Obama to how to address immigration.

Rubio, Florida’s Republican U.S. senator who grew up in Miami, will introduce Mitt Romney tomorrow night at the Republican National Convention, a primo spot second only to the presidential candidate’s acceptance speech itself.

Rubio said his job is to make clear to the millions of television viewers during his prime-time speech the choices between the two candidates and the role of government in people’s lives.

“This election is about the choice the country has about the role government should play in our country. And really that is what this choice is going to be about. It’s not a choice between a Democrat and a Republican simply. It’s a choice about much more than that. So tomorrow, my job is to introduce the next president of the united states and to do so in a way that makes It clear to people what their choice is.
It’s a great honor,” Rubio said.

Rubio will also talk about his experience as the son of Cuban immigrants, something he does with an earnestness that has made him one of the most popular Republican politicians in the country. Rubio was on Romney’s short-list for veep before the former Massachusetts governor settled on U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan.

When asked what’s different about his tomorrow-night speech, Rubio laughed.

“I don’t know. Thirty-nine million people, probably. Look, it’s a tremendous honor to be able to give this speech in my home state in front of a lot of family and friends,” he said, mentioning his mother and late father.
“It will be affirmation that their lives matter. That all the sacrifices and hard work they went through was worth something…It’s just an honor to be able to introduce the next president of the U.S. and to do so in a way that I hope will make clear the choice that we have and the difference between the two men.”

Rubio blamed complaints that the Romney campaign hadn’t done enough to reach out to Hispanic voters on the campaign’s limited resources and said the pace would pick up in the general election cycle .

Read what Rubio said about immigration, Charlie Crist and Paul Ryan after the jump.

Romney sons continue image work on Dad before Fla GOP

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012 by John Kennedy

Two sons of Mitt and Ann Romney, Craig and Ben, continued the all-out burnishing of the soon-to-be Republican nominee’s image Wednesday, speaking at a breakfast meeting of the Florida delegation to the Republican National Convention.

Stories about their millionaire Dad rousting his five sons for Saturday morning yard work. Mitt and Ann’s devotion to each other and their family, and even the candidate’s willingness to take an apparently terrifying ride on an Olympic skeleton sled to promote the 2002 Salt Lake City games he oversaw were all folded into the presentation by the two Romney sons.

“I believe in him, so excited and proud of him,” said Ben, 34, a Boston radiologist. “I’m so excited for his (Thursday night acceptance) speech. I don’t know if it’ll lilve up to my Mom’s.”

Ann Romney’s convention speech Tuesday night drew high marks from most Florida delegates and TV viewers, according to overnight surveys. Most agreed she helped humanize her husband, plagued by a cold fish demeanor. The couple’s sons are part of the ground game aimed at the same goal, speaking to groups and state delegations.

Son Craig, 31, the couple’s youngest child, recalled his Dad agreeing to ride the treacherous skeleton sled down an Olympic course for NBC’s Today Show, to help advance the then-troubled games. Ever the technocrat, Mitt Romney took lessons from the eventual gold medal winner before he ventured down the icy course,  Craig said.

When it was over, Craig said his dad’s spiked boots had holes on the tops – worn down by his dragging his feet while traveling at top speed down the frozen track.

“He is not exactly a thrill seeker,” Craig conceded. But he said the lesson was, “This guy would do anything, including risking personal injury, to make these games a success.”

Craig also predicted, “I think his greatest successes still await him in the White House.”

Lincoln look-alike gets attention at RNC

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012 by Dara Kam

It’s a fashion smorgasbord at the Republican National Convention, where party faithful are bespectacled in red, white and blue sequins, flags and a glittery cornucopia of patriotic accoutrements.

But perhaps the only top hat in the crowd is being sported by Abraham Lincoln look-alike George Engelbach, a delegate from Missouri who is running for the state House of Representatives whose campaign business cards have the words “Lincoln Admirer” beneath his name.

Engelbach caused a sensation in the Tampa Bay Times Forum where he lingered in the hallway during a slow floor session this afternoon. Fellow delegates frequently stopped him to have their picture snapped with the Republican from Hillsboro, Mo., who ran for the state House two years ago and lost.

Rubio gives preview of his blue-collar pitch for Romney

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012 by John Kennedy

A key part of the Republican ticket’s bid to woo Hispanic voters, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio gave members of the Florida delegation a likely preview Tuesday of his Republican National Convention introduction speech for soon-to-be presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Before he was interrupted four times by anti-Romney hecklers who infiltrated the Florida GOP’s breakfast session, Rubio rallied the audience with images of a post-November future.

“I believe we are only one election away from a new era, a new era of American prosperity,” Rubio said.

Much of his focus was on the delegation, and the importance the Republican crowd would play in getting out the vote.

The West Miami Republican is scheduled to introduce Romney for his acceptance speech Thursday night. Rubio, who was considered as a possible Romney running mate, is expected to help the ticket draw Hispanic voters, who polls show remain decidedly in favor of President Obama.

Rubio relied on his own working-class roots in selling the Republican message Tuesday.

“Prosperity is created when someone who has money uses their own money to start a business or grow an existing business and if it works, they  hire people who make a salary, who spend that money into the economy, creating jobs and prosperity for other people,” Rubio said.

“That’s not an economic theory. I didn’t read about it in a book. I saw it in my own life,” Rubio said.

“My dad was a bartender, my mom was a maid a stock clerk, a cashier and a maid,” he said. “My parents had jobs, and that allowed their children to have careers…My parents had jobs because someone who had access to money, used it to open up a hotel.

“Because Americans made enough money to take vacations the these hotels, and to be generous with their tips. I remind every delegation I meet here in Florida, be generous with your tipping.”

Bondi said economy will draw women voters to Romney

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012 by John Kennedy

Attorney General Pam Bondi defended the Mitt Romney- Paul Ryan ticket for women voters Tuesday, saying the Republicans’ themes on jobs and the economy should resonate for all voters.

Bondi, who has campaigned in Virginia and New Hampshire for Romney, told the Florida delegation at the Republican National Convention that under President Obama, women have suffered job losses that have endangered their families.

Meanwhile, she said Democrats have sought to distract women voters “with ridiculous distractions that don’t make sense.”

While Bondi did not expand on how the Republican ticket’s support for stricter abortion laws was being twisted by Democrats, she said the economy was the top issue on the minds of women voters.

“Every woman I speak to, cares about the same thing,” Bondi told delegates at the Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor.

“The only way to stop it is to get Mitt Romney in the White House and Barack Obama out of it,” Bondi said.

Day 1: Republicans convene, adjourn, provide photo op for Ron Paul backers

Monday, August 27th, 2012 by George Bennett

Ron Paul supporters flock to the "We Can Do Better" sign on convention floor.

TAMPA — Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus pounded an oversize gavel to officially open the 2012 GOP convention this afternoon.

Then, after about 20 seconds of applause, he pounded the gavel again and declared the convention in recess. The GOP decided Saturday to scrap today’s agenda because of the threat from Tropical Storm Isaac, which this afternoon was churning through the Gulf of Mexico toward hurricane status and a potential Wednesday New Orleans landfall.

Today’s abbreviated ceremony still attracted several hundred delegates and others to the Tampa Bay Times Forum, including Tony Jackson, an alternate from Tampa.

“This is my first one. I’m just taking it all in. I’ve watched every one of these since 1968 and I’m just glad to be here,” the 49-year-old Jackson said.

Supporters of libertarian-leaning Ron Paul gravitated toward a large “We Can Do Better” sign at one end of the floor, drawing a throng of photographers as they posed for pictures next to it while holding up Paul signs.

Crist further angers GOP with plans to speak at Dem Convention

Monday, August 27th, 2012 by John Kennedy

Gov. Charlie Crist’s plans to speak at next week’s Democratic National Convention brought a fresh round of outrage Monday from Republican leaders — already sizing up the renegade former Republican executive as a likely opponent in the 2014 governor’s race.

“It’s got to be an historic moment,” said Florida Republican Party Chairman Lenny Curry. “A self-proclaimed Jeb Bush, a self-proclaimed Ronald Reagan Republican, who is on the record opposing most of the policies of President Obama is going to speak at the Democratic convention.

“I’m not quite sure what they’re thinking,” he added. “I know what he’s thinking.”

Curry said, “I don’t know what his plans are. It certainly looks like he’s in a position to do something.”

Curry also challenged Crist’s central theme — expressed in an op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times on Sunday — that the Republican Party had moved too far to the right for him, and that’s why he was endorsing President Obama. Curry and Republican researchers have released a trove of Crist quotes and policy positions from his long political career that clearly cast him as a pr0-gun, anti-abortion, anti-same sex marriage Republican.

Instead, Curry said Crist’s latest move follows a pattern that saw him run unsuccessfully as an independent for U.S. Senate when Republican Marco Rubio became the party’s nominee in 2010.

“Charlie left the Republican Party because it was the most likely scenario in which he could win the United States Senate seat,” Curry said. 

The timing of Crist’s announcement — on the eve of the Republican National Convention in his Tampa Bay-area home — infuriates Republicans even more. Asked if the party would run TV spots ridiculing Crist’s conversion, Curry said, “You just gave me an idea.”

“If Charlie Crist wants to…rain on our parade, we’re going to respond,” Curry said.




Former GOP candidates, Geraldo, Sam Donaldson and The Oak Ridge Boys on Radio Row

Monday, August 27th, 2012 by George Bennett

The Oak Ridge Boys do an impromptu rendition of The Star Spangled Banner for a host on Radio Row.

Michele Bachmann and Sam Donaldson.

TAMPA — With more than 90 radio stations broadcasting live from the Republican National Convention, “Radio Row” on the second floor of the Tampa Convention Center is the ideal place to catch a glimpse of a former GOP candidate.

In the space of about 10 minutes on Monday morning, former presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann hobnobbed with ABC News legend Sam Donaldson while former White House aspirant Herman Cain did a radio interview nearby. Former 2008 presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee prepped for his own radio show a few feet away from Geraldo Rivera while The Oak Ridge Boys did an impromptu rendition of The Star Spangled Banner for a radio host.

See more photos after the jump…


Florida delegation in “primary purgatory”

Monday, August 27th, 2012 by John Kennedy

Florida delegates to the Republican National Convention have been fairly stoic about the location of their hotel — with the host delegation housed more than an hour’s drive to the downtown Tampa convention site.

But state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam may have captured the feelings of delegates best about their remote location — calling it “primary purgatory.” delegation.

“I’m happy to be here with our partners in primary purgatory,” South Carolina Republican Chairman Chad Connelly told the Floridians at a Monday breakfast

South Carolina and Florida are sharing the Innisbrook Golf Resort hotel in Palm Harbor because both states violated party rules by advancing the dates of their presidential primaries earlier this year. Along with being assigned a faraway hotel, both states also have had their voting delegations cut in half by the RNC.


Scott acknowledges RNC plans are “day-to-day”

Monday, August 27th, 2012 by John Kennedy

Gov. Rick Scott acknowledged Monday that the fate of the Republican National Convention is day-to-day as Tropical Storm Isaac continues on its path toward the Gulf coast.

“I think the convention has the same goal I have, we’re going to keep everybody safe,” Scott said, after giving Florida’s convention delegates a storm update at the Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor, where the delegation is housed.

The storm is expected to dump several inches of rain on an already saturated Florida Panhandle later this week, Scott said. There also remains the threat that Isaac will turn into a fierce hurricane when it makes landfall, now most likely in Louisianna.

Scott kept his distance from speculation the convention could be scrapped. But he said much depends on the storm.

“It’s day-to-day,” Scott said of convention planning. “But the positive is for Florida, not necessarily for Louisianna, is that it’s trending west. It has not become a hurricane yet.”

Convention organizers have been retooling the schedule for upcoming days. Monday is mostly a washout, with delegates being told largely to stay inside and avoid travel on roadways in the Tampa Bay area.

The party is certainly mindful of the political risk of scheduling convention events if Gulf coast citizens are scrambling for shelter.

Clint Pate, the Jackson County Republican chairman, said he knew his home Panhandle county was going to be deluged Tuesday, when the convention is expected to kick back into gear.

“We’ll be all right, though,” Pate said. “I don’t think this is going to take away from our goal of nominating Mitt Romney. The message is the same.”

Scott: Isaac will showcase how Florida handles storms

Sunday, August 26th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Even as Tropical Storm Isaac gains strength and poses a growing threat to Florida’s Gulf Coast, Gov. Rick Scott wouldn’t say whether holding a convention in Tampa during hurricane was a bad idea, repeatedly side-stepping questions about the site selection during an emergency briefing with the media this afternoon.

“Everybody likes to come to Florida. I’m sure they’re going to have a great convention,” Scott said.

Scott tried to turn the looming disaster, expected to bring high winds and gusts into the Tampa Bay region, into a Sunshine State sales pitch.

“The convention was a big opportunity for our state to show what a great place it is to live, work and play. Now what they’ve learned, what they’re going to find out this week, is we know how to deal with hurricanes. We’re prepared. This is a state that knows how to deal with those things,” he said. “On top of that we’re the best hospitality state around. We have 87 million tourists here a year. We know how to have conventions, how to have large events and we’re going to do a great job.”

Florida officials’ job is to keep residents and visitors safe, Scott said.

“We’re going to make sure that happens and we’ll do everything we can to make sure they have a great time,” the governor said at convention emergency operations center in Tampa at noon.

Winds are emergency officials’ greatest worry for the Tampa region, Scott said.

“But around the state we’ve got rain, we’ve got wind, we’ve got storm surge and then we’ve got the risk of tornadoes,” he said.

Scott warned visitors to the area who are staying at neighboring Pinellas County beaches to stay put instead of heading into the water-surrounded downtown convention site.

“If someone’s staying close to the beach, stay close to the beach. Don’t start venturing into the Tampa side because you don’t know what’s going to happen as far as your ability to get home,” Scott cautioned, adding that he planned to be in Tampa today only.

Scott said he spoke with Mitt Romney twice yesterday and “brought him up to speed” about emergency preparations statewide and in the Tampa area.

Late yesterday, GOP officials canceled Monday’s opening day Republican National Convention events and said the convention would resume on Tuesday. They are expected to issue a revised schedule later today.

The “roll call of the states” officially nominating Romney was supposed to take place at 2 p.m. tomorrow. But the nomination is now expected to happen on Tuesday along with other events previously scheduled for Monday.

Gov. Scott on Florida: “We do hurricanes and hospitality well”

Sunday, August 26th, 2012 by John Kennedy

Gov. Rick Scott said Sunday at the delayed Republican National Convention in Tampa that he’s worried about Tropical Storm Isaac making two landfalls in Florida as a hurricane – in the Keys and Panhandle — but that the state is accustomed to handling bad weather.

“We do hurricanes and hospitality well, and this week we have to show both sides,” Scott told CNN.

With the storm bearing down on Key West, Scott changed from his political uniform of dark jacket, shirt and tie into his more accustomed open collar, blue shirt — the image of a shirtsleeved, hardworking chief executive.

But he also offered Mitt Romney some advice for winning Florida in November. Scott said Romney and running mate U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan need only look at the governor’s own campaign in 2010 for a game plan.

“I think as long as Gov. Romney and Congressman Ryan talk about how they’ll get this state back to work, they’ll win Florida,” Scott said.

GOP convention postponed, Scott cancels Sunday and Monday activities

Saturday, August 25th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Republicans have postponed their national convention in Tampa at least a day because of concerns about Tropical Storm Isaac.

The event will kick off Monday morning but the convention will immediately recess until Tuesday afternoon, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement.

“Due to the severe weather reports for the Tampa Bay area, the Republican National Convention will convene on Monday August 27th and immediately recess until Tuesday afternoon, August 28th. After consulting with Governor Scott, NOAA and local emergency management officials, we are optimistic that we will begin an exciting, robust convention that will nominate the Romney-Ryan ticket,” Priebus said.

Gov. Rick Scott has canceled all of his convention-related events Sunday and Monday, including his speech, because of the storm.

So far, however, no delegates have canceled their plans to attend the convention, according to GOP officials.

Isaac moved into Cuba on Saturday after causing flooding and several deaths in Haiti. Forecasters say the storm is on a track that would bring it toward Florida Monday and Tuesday. The Tampa Bay region is under a tropical storm watch already.

Here’s an excerpt from Scott’s statement:

“I am continuing to lead multiple daily briefings with local, state and federal decision makers and RNC officials to share information so the best decisions can be made for each region. I also spoke to Governor Romney earlier today and briefed him on the storm and possible impact to the state. I have made Governor Romney and RNC officials aware of the resources our state can provide in the chance Tampa is affected. Like all decision-makers affected by this storm, the convention officials will make the best decisions for delegates and participants.”

And here’s Priebus’ memo effectively canceling day one:

Due to the severe weather reports for the Tampa Bay area, the Republican National Convention will convene on Monday August 27th and immediately recess until Tuesday afternoon, August 28th, exact time to follow.

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. RNC Convention officials and the Romney campaign are working closely with state, local and federal officials, as well as the Secret Service, to monitor Tropical Storm Isaac and preserve Florida’s emergency management resources. Officials have predicted participants may encounter severe transportation difficulties due to sustained wind and rain.

The Republican National Convention will take place and officially nominate Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, and the Party has other necessary business it must address. We also are remaining in constant contact with state and federal officials and may make additional schedule alterations as needed.

The Convention staff is working around-the-clock to ensure the delegations housed in storm-impacted areas have alternative housing if needed. The Committee on Arrangements will provide additional information to delegates and alternate delegates who are affected by Isaac by Sunday morning. We will also provide guidance to those delegates and alternate delegates who may encounter travel difficulties due to the storm.

We will begin issuing revised convention programming as early as Sunday.

We have an experienced team that will ensure changes are operationally smooth and create as little disruption as possible. The most important concern is safety, but our Convention program will proceed.

And here’s a memo from Republican National Convention President and CEO Bill Harris:

“Our chief priority is the safety of the residents of Florida, of those visiting the Convention, and all those in Gulf Coast states who may be impacted by Tropical Storm Isaac. We have been working closely with the campaign, the party, and state and local officials for months to ensure a successful, enjoyable convention. Federal, state and local officials assure us that they are prepared to respond, if needed, and the scheduling changes we are announcing today will help ensure the continued safety of all participants – our foremost concern. We are also committed to keeping the delegates and guests of the convention well informed about the situation, and we will continue providing updates in the hours and days ahead.”

Biden scrubs Monday visit to Tampa, cites storm and security concerns

Saturday, August 25th, 2012 by George Bennett

President Obama‘s campaign has altered its plans to grab some spotlight from the Republican National Convention, announcing late Friday that Vice President Joe Biden is scrubbing a planned campaign stop in Tampa on Monday because of “disaster preparedness and local security concerns.”

With Tropical Storm Isaac churning toward Florida and tens of thousands of delegates, protesters and media coming to Tampa for the convention, Tampa Bay Online reported that Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee voiced concerns about the added security burden of a vice presidential visit.

“It does complicate things. Certainly, it’s not the best day for us because we are trying to do a good job for the people that are going to be down in Tampa for this other event so they are all safe,” Gee said.

“We’re stretched, no doubt, and we may become more stretched with this storm out there,” Gee said.

Even Tampa’s Democratic mayor, Bob Buckhorn, sounded less than enthusiastic about his city’s ability to handle the convention, the storm and a Biden visit.

Buckhorn told TBO Online he didn’t know where Biden was planning to visit, but “If it is in the city, then I’m sure we’re going to have to deploy some resources to it…They are resources I would prefer not to have to deploy, but it is what it is.”

Said the Obama campaign: “This change in schedule is being taken out of an abundance of caution to ensure that all local law enforcement and emergency management resources can stay focused on ensuring the safety of people who might be impacted by the storm, as well as those attending the activities in Tampa.”

Biden is still slated to campaign Tuesday in Orlando and St. Augustine, though the Obama camp says those plans are “subject to change due to weather-related precautions.”

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