Greetings from sunny … er, beautiful … er, just Tampa. And from the inside of my hotel room at that, because not a lot else is happening this opening day of the 2012 Republican National Convention.
The Georgia delegation, which is staying at the same hotel, is holed up in an enormous ballroom listening to uber-focus grouper Frank Luntz. I’d tell you what he’s saying, except the event — like everything else the Georgia delegation has done so far — is closed to the press. I don’t know why so many Georgia Republicans believe they can shape press coverage to their liking by shunning the press. One day, perhaps they’ll learn these antics won’t keep the media from covering them and might just contribute to the sometimes adversarial relationship they have with us. (In any case, the AJC’s Jim Galloway is sitting outside the ballroom as I type, to gather what he can from the Luntz discussion.)
Beyond that, and in case you haven’t yet heard, the Monday program for the convention has been cut to a 10-minute session this afternoon in which the gathering will be officially opened and then adjourned until tomorrow afternoon. Whether the weather justifies that decision remains to be seen; for now, it would appear the worst has already passed us, though more rain is coming. But it may turn out to be a regrettable decision in terms of media coverage of the proceedings, because Tropical Storm Isaac is threatening to become a hurricane and is projected now to make landfall near New Orleans sometime late Tuesday or early Wednesday. Whenever and wherever it hits, it’s likely media coverage will shift to the hurricane — especially if it’s a big storm hitting New Orleans just seven years after Hurricane Katrina — and that the RNC will want to cancel some of its proceedings out of respect for the storm’s victims.
From a political perspective, what this means is that Mitt Romney could be watching Mother Nature take a big chunk out of one of the key moments in his campaign. I don’t think this week is critical for his campaign: Since Paul Ryan joined the ticket, the race has tightened even further, including in the swing states. And Romney has yet to tap into general-election funds for which he currently has a $60 million advantage over President Obama. So, this week certainly isn’t make-or-break. But it is shaping up as a possible lost opportunity.
– By Kyle Wingfield