In New Orleans, where the hurricane jitters were back, Tulane University political science professor Brian Brox said the region's governors were moving fast to show their executive leadership — and perhaps, secondarily, audition for a potential appointment in a Romney Cabinet.
He said Romney and the convention organizers, though, could do nothing to help because "they have no authority."
"So what they're hoping for is that this is, at most, inconvenient, and that their allied Republican governors handle it well — and that everyone then turns their attention back to the convention," Brox said. "That's what they need."
Isaac also injected a new campaign context about the role of government in America. Obama and Romney have engaged mightily on this point on economic terms, but Obama and his team may now see a chance to portray themselves as the defender of disaster aid and other safety nets for the hurting.
Obama and top lawmakers like House Speaker John Boehner last year agreed in a budget pact to overhaul the way disaster aid is financed. Instead of infusions of emergency aid, which had led to budget peril, they agreed on a new system in which disaster aid would be funded on top of other programs.
In drafting his budget this spring, Rep. Paul Ryan — now Romney's running mate — sought to save about $10 billion a year by scrapping that system. He proposed funding disaster aid by cutting other domestic programs even further, on top of the already steep cuts such programs would face.
Ryan, however, got his knuckles rapped by GOP leaders, who sealed a gentleman's agreement that the new system would stay in place, at least for this year.
Associated Press writers Brian Bakst and Brendan Farrington in Tampa, Fla., Steve Peoples in Wolfeboro, N.H., Andrew Taylor in Washington and Emily Wagster in Jackson, Miss., contributed to this report.
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