It’s a brief sunshine break before the storm. With less than 3 days to go before the Republican National Convention, Florida, Tampa Bay area officials and convention organizers are watching and waiting to see what Tropical Storm Isaac will do Monday and Tuesday, the first 2 days of the convention.
With the storm’s current projected path, the Tampa Bay area is in the “cone of uncertainty” and could see a lot of rain, flooding, and windy conditions the first part of the convention, local meteorologists say.
For now, the convention is still on. As the countdown continues, walls of protective fencing and concrete barricades have gone up in downtown Tampa and at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, where a welcoming party will be held Sunday. There’s also more heightened security in downtown Tampa, Tampa International Airport and around the Tampa Bay Times Forum, where the convention will be held. That’s because thousands of protestors also will be in town. Local news media report 5,000 protestors plan a morning rally and march through downtown on Monday. Outside of the convention security zones, Tampa businesses like Alessi Bakery are celebrating the convention with GOP cookies for sale. Pinellas County beach hotels where some state delegations are staying, also are making the best of the situation, as Isaac looms.
City and state transportation officials will close roads and have alternate routes related to the RNC, starting at noon Saturday. The City of Tampa has set up a 24-hour RNC Call Center open now through noon Friday, August 31st. For the latest on temporary street closures, downtown parking options, basic help with directions and hospitality information for visitors, call this toll-free number: 866-762-8687.
Many of the 50,000 convention delegates, guests and news media arrive in Tampa this weekend while there’s nice weather for a beach visit. But on Sunday, Isaac is forecast to head into the Gulf of Mexico and off Florida’s west coast.
This week Republican National Committee officials also announced themes for the convention program, which starts at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night’s is “We Built It.” Keynote speaker Governor Chris Christie (New Jersey), U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, Governor Bobby Jindal (Louisiana) and Governor Susana Martinez (New Mexico) are among the speakers.
Wednesday’s theme is “We Can Change It.” Vice Presidential nominee Congressman Paul Ryan will speak. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Senator John McCain (Arizona), Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi and Former Governor Jeb Bush also will address the delegates.
Republican Presidential nominee Governor Mitt Romney speaks on Thursday night, the last day of the convention. The closing convention theme is “We Believe in America.” Florida’s Congressman Connie Mack will be part of Thursday’s program. Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio will introduce Romney.
For updates, stay tuned to WFLA-TV or go to www.tbo.com