By STEVE PEOPLES, Associated Press
WOLFEBORO, N.H. (AP) — Mitt Romney suggested Monday that he's not considering canceling the Republican National Convention even as New Orleans faces another powerful storm on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
Asked Monday whether he had any message for the people of New Orleans, Romney said: "Our thoughts are with the people that are in the storm's path and hope that they're spared any major destruction."
But when asked whether he was considering canceling the convention, Romney replied: "We've got a great convention ahead." The gathering already has been trimmed to three days, from four, because of the weather in the Tampa, Fla., area.
A strengthening Tropical Storm Isaac was expected to become a hurricane and possibly hit late Tuesday between the Louisiana bayous and the Florida Panhandle. The storm's arrival would coincide with the seven-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the region in August 2005.
Romney briefly addressed reporters Monday morning as he and his wife, Ann, entered a high school auditorium near his New Hampshire summer home to rehearse his convention speech. Ann Romney is scheduled to address the convention on Tuesday night, while Romney will speak Thursday night.
The former Massachusetts governor struck an optimistic tone as he left the school, and suggested things were "terrific" in Tampa, where the weather was rain-free, partly sunny and breezy.
"I like my speech. I really like Ann's speech," Romney said, his wife at his side. "Our sons are already in Tampa and they say it's terrific there — a lot of great friends. And we're looking forward to a great convention."
He was all smiles when reporters asked for a preview of the speech.
"Uh, thank you, ladies and gentlemen," Romney said with a laugh before climbing into his SUV.
The weather situation is a complication, at best, for a party determined to cast the close election as a referendum on President Barack Obama's economic stewardship and Romney as the best hope for jobs and prosperity.
"It is what it is," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Monday morning, suggesting that the GOP still can present a compelling argument for Romney despite the storm and the compressed schedule.
"Obviously we want to pray for anyone that's in the pathway of this storm but the message is still the same: that all Americans deserve a better future and that this president ... didn't keep the promises he made in 2008," Priebus said on NBC's "Today."
Romney has no public events scheduled Monday.
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