By CAITLIN JOHNSTON
TAMPA (August 25, 2012)—What meteorologists said for months had a 1-percent chance of occurring has now happened: Tropical Storm Isaac has disrupted the Republican National Convention, leading officials to cancel Monday's first day of sessions.
"We're in the process right now of putting together a program of, instead of it being a four-day programming, consolidating everything to a three-day programming," Romney For President senior strategist Russ Schriefer said in a conference call Saturday. "We're hoping to get as many of the speakers and pack them into three days."
While convention leaders alter the event schedule to fit the remaining time, delegates and guests from Maryland must reassess their plans for the week, as well.
About a third of Maryland's 161-strong delegation has already arrived in Tampa and is waiting for more information on the altered schedule, delegate Larry Helminiak of Sykesville said. Most of the delegation is scheduled to arrive Sunday, if weather permits.
"We've heard the convention has been pushed back to Tuesday and we know nothing else," Helminiak said.
The roll call for the nomination of president and vice president, which was scheduled for Monday, will take place on Tuesday with few other changes, Schriefer said.
"We'll know on Monday how severe the tropical storm is," Schriefer said. "We're keeping in close contact with all weather officials. We just don't want to put our delegates in danger."
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said the convention will convene Monday, but then immediately recess until Tuesday, giving Isaac time to pass.
There's a possibility Tuesday's events might start earlier, but those details will be worked out later, Schriefer said. Regardless of what schedule changes do occur, convention leaders and the Romney for President team are still set on delivering their message.
"I think the important thing is even though the time of the convention, the days will be abbreviated, we will absolutely be able to get our message out," Schriefer said. "We have the opportunity to tell to the American people the story of the last four years of how President Obama's leadership failed this country and how Mitt Romney can do better and provide a better future for America."