For the second time in four years, a hurricane could disrupt the Republican National Convention.
Tropical Storm Isaac is projected to reach hurricane strength by early Thursday morning, and is expected to take a path that will take it over Florida. While forecasting hurricanes is always difficult, some models suggest the storm could make a direct hit on Tampa on Monday, where Republicans are scheduled to hold their quadrennial national convention.
While Isaac is not projected to be a major hurricane, it could still have a significant impact on the convention, and it may force the party to juggle their schedule due to the storm’s affects on the area.
While Republicans do have contingency plans in place to deal with the storm, they would certainly prefer to not have to execute them. Parties use their national conventions to build excitement and put their best face forward. National conventions can make or break a campaign and give national exposure to a party’s up-and-comers. Indeed, President Barack Obama owes his presidency to his speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, which received rave reviews.
Republican National Convention communications director James Davis told the Christian Science Monitor that party officials were monitoring the situation.
“We’re in close touch with all the federal, state and local agencies. We’re focused on preparing still and having a great event starting on Monday,” Davis said. Republicans did game-plan for a hurricane, running a mock-hurricane drill in May. Those plans may need to be put into effect. Dr. Jeff Masters, a meteorologist for Weather Underground, estimates that there is a 3 percent chance that Tampa will need to be evacuated during the Republican National Convention.
Republicans canceled a day of the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, despite the fact that Hurricane Gustav was making landfall over 1,000 miles away on the Gulf Coast. While Gustav obviously did not affect Minnesota, the GOP feared that the juxtaposition of a convention with a hurricane in the Gulf would conjure memories of Hurricane Katrina, and the Bush administration’s disastrous response to it.
As of Wednesday morning, Tropical Storm Isaac was located 210 nautical miles east of Guadaloupe, with sustained winds of 45 miles per hour. It is projected to pass near Hispaniola and Cuba, before turning north toward the Florida Keys. The storm is forecast to reach hurricane strength by Thursday afternoon.
Image Credit: NOAA