- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 26, 2012

TAMPA, Fla — Republicans scrambled Sunday to rearrange their storm-shortened nominating convention, culling some lesser speakers as they tried to pack four days of events into three days of space.

Over the weekend, the GOP decided to scrap Monday’s events in light of Tropical Storm Isaac, which was winding its way up the Gulf of Mexico and already battering parts of southern Florida.

Russ Schriefer, a top adviser to the Romney campaign who is producing the convention, said organizers are keeping all of the headliner speakers, including Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, whose speech moves to Tuesday, when the convention will now kick into gear.

Mr. Schriefer said Monday’s session now will last no more than five minutes, and will involve Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus gaveling it into session and then adjourning until Tuesday.

On Sunday, Mr. Priebus found himself defending his predecessor’s decision to award the convention to Tampa — a city that had been in the running in 2004 and 2008 but which the GOP rejected, including that last time when officials said they were worried about a hurricane.

In 2010, as he announced Tampa as his pick, former party Chairman Michael Steele and his team downplayed the risks of a hurricane, saying the last time Tampa had been hit directly was 1921.

Visiting Florida soon after the announcement, he was asked about the potential for a hurricane, and he looked out the windows, saying: “I’m looking at blue skies, warm weather and shorts.”

Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Mr. Priebus, who won the election that ousted Mr. Steele as chairman, defended his predecessor.

“To his defense, we’ve had conventions in Miami, New Orleans, Houston,” Mr. Priebus said, ticking off other areas prone to hurricanes. “I think this is a great place to be.”

Isaac is now projected to make landfall between Texas and the Florida Panhandle, though Tampa is still expected to see severe weather.

This marks the second straight Republican convention that’s been cut short because of a hurricane.

In 2008, the GOP scrapped the first day because a storm was bearing down on the Gulf Coast.

Republicans were actually gathered hundreds of miles north in St. Paul, Minn., but did not want to hold a celebratory convention when there was a chance the storm could hit New Orleans, site of the botched response to Hurricane Katrina three years earlier.