TAMPA---Tropical Storm Isaac has doused the Republican National Convention with a new sense of urgency. It is creating a crisis atmosphere in which Mitt Romney and the GOP brass can show that they are deft and steady managers who can efficiently run the most important party event of the year despite a natural disaster looming on the horizon.
After hours of meetings among Republican convention planners and aides to Romney, the decision was made to cancel or postpone most of the events of Monday, the first day of the convention, and wrap those events into the remaining three days of the gathering.
Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said Saturday that, "Our first priority is ensuring the safety of delegates, alternates, guests, members of the media attending the Republican National Convention, and citizens of the Tampa Bay area."
Priebus said contingency plans are ready in case more changes need to be made because of the severe storm bearing down on Florida.
The consequences of mismanagement could be serious because Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, has made a cornerstone of his campaign the argument that his experience in business, volunteer work, and government makes him a much more capable manager than President Obama. His goal, GOP strategists tell me, is to bill himself as a "Mr. Fix It" who now wants to take on the troubled economy.
If he can't make sure his own convention runs smoothly despite the threat of Tropical Storm Isaac, this image could suffer.
Romney seemed intent on showing that he has the right priorities. "The safety of those in Isaac's path is of the utmost importance," he tweeted Saturday night.
Other GOP officials also said they would emphasize public safey above all else. Gov. Robert Bentley of Alabama and Gov. Rick Scott of Florida canceled plans to attend the GOP convention and announced that they would stay home to preside over storm preparations.
Strangely enough, four years ago, the Republicans postponed one day of their national convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul because of Hurricane Gustav.
Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog, "Ken Walsh's Washington," and is the author of "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Facebook and Twitter.