The Tampa, Fla., area got a reprieve from Tropical Storm Isaac Monday, clearing the way for the Republican National Convention to move into full swing today after a day's delay due to the storm.
"It is hurricane season, but I'm looking out of my hotel window and there's no rain-just clouds with occasional breaks of sunshine," Washington County Commissioner Tim Irvine said Monday afternoon.
He's serving as an alternate delegate during the convention in Tampa this week, which officially opened Monday.
The Associated Press
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, talks to reporters on the floor of the Republican National Convention in the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, Fla., on Monday.
"The rules say the convention had to open Monday, which they did, but then we went into recess until Tuesday," Irvine explained.
He said there are a couple hundred people with the Ohio delegation in Tampa this week. That includes fellow Washington County residents Marilyn Ashcraft, a convention delegate, U.S. Congressman Bill Johnson and Marietta College senior Sarah Snow, acting chair of the local College Republicans.
Monday wasn't a total loss for the delegates as the group met for breakfast with state Republican Party Chairman Kevin Bennett and heard from Ohio Sen. Rob Portman.
At a glance
The Republican National Convention officially began Monday morning in Tampa, Fla., but was recessed until today due to concerns that Tropical Storm Isaac would hit the city.
All tropical storm warnings were canceled for the Tampa area by Monday afternoon.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich will be among several governors, including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, slated to speak at the convention tonight.
More inside: Convention update, see Page A3.
"(Portman) talked a lot about Neil Armstrong. It was a very touching speech," Irvine said of the astronaut who died Saturday.
In addition to Portman, Irvine said the delegation is also hearing talks from President George W. Bush's former press secretary Ari Fleischer and Mitt Romney's son, Josh.
"The theme is 'The road to the White House runs through Ohio,'" he said. "Everybody's excited. It's a whole different attitude than four years ago."
Ashcraft, who arrived in Tampa Saturday, agreed.
"This is my fourth national convention," she said. "The last (in 2008) was in Minneapolis/St. Paul and in my opinion the excitement here is much greater. We're ready to nominate Mitt Romney as our candidate."
Ashcraft said the weather had not been nearly as bad as predicted, although a tornado watch was issued and lifted at one point Monday afternoon.
"The national media has our families scared to death about the weather, but I've seen much worse storms in Marietta," she said. "It won't put a damper on this convention. Our job is to get our candidate nominated and everybody's revved up to do that."
Ashcraft noted there was a protest rally staged by supporters of former presidential candidate Ron Paul on Sunday, but there's no doubt for her that Romney will be the GOP's nominee.
Snow said the weather wasn't the big story around the Tampa area.
"I came in around 10 a.m. Saturday. It's my first time in Tampa, but the weather hasn't been that bad. The media blew it all out of proportion," she said.
She's among 100 pages from across the country and U.S. Virigin Islands whose main duties involve assisting delegates during the convention.
"The schedule's been crazy since they had to push the convention back a day. It's kind of surreal but we're all very excited," Snow said. "You would think Republicans have taken over the whole town-there are elephant figures everywhere. I feel bad for people who are vacationing here and didn't expect a Republican convention."
The National Weather Service on Monday morning canceled all tropical storm warnings east and south of the Aucilla River in the northwestern corner of Florida. But Irvine said rainstorms generated by Isaac were still expected in the Tampa area through Thursday.
Although the storm won't have the impact expected earlier this week on the Tampa area, the forecast indicated Isaac was headed across the Gulf of Mexico toward Louisiana where Hurricane Katrina struck seven years ago.