Today was supposed to be the kickoff of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, but Tropical Storm Isaac, long before it reaches U.S. shores, has already wreaked a little political havoc. Over the weekend, RNC organizers scrapped today’s scheduled events and speakers, turning a four-day convention into a three-day gathering.
A revised schedule was released last night, and it appears nearly all of the speakers will still have time on the stage, though it’s taken quite a bit of shuffling to accommodate the lineup, and many of the speeches themselves will have to be trimmed for time.
For its part, the Obama campaign has changed its plans – Vice President Biden canceled his planned trip to Tampa, unwilling to divert resources from a possible storm response – but unveiled a new video over the weekend, mocking the “Convention Reinvention.”
As for the larger political considerations, will the truncated convention schedule make much of a difference? Maybe a little.
For one thing, if the party conventions have taken on the qualities of high-profile, well-produced infomercials, Republican organizers had mapped out ways to push a carefully crafted message over the course of four days. Indeed, tonight was supposed to help set the tone for the week, with the RNC giving the spotlight to regular people who had ostensibly been hurt by President Obama.
Republicans have a story they want to tell and now the story will have to be shorter.
For another, Isaac will necessarily divert attention away from the convention and towards the impact of the storm. It appears very likely that Tampa will feel minimal effects, but Isaac is going to hit the Gulf Coast this week, and it’s going to pack a punch. New Orleans, in particular, may feel the brunt of the impact.
While the RNC wants all eyes on its anti-Obama attacks, the media and the public will also want to know more about the victims of a significant storm. The result is “an uncomfortable split-screen image” and a Romney campaign “sharing the news spotlight.”