Just as the Akin hubbub was dying down, Isaac began churning its way up the Gulf of Mexico. Monday's schedule for the Tampa convention, which was to focus on attacking Obama's record, had to be scrubbed. And Republican officials weighed options to dial back the rest of the convention's intensity, out of respect for possible storm victims.
Romney, and his ability to control the campaign message, seemed snake-bit.
"Generally the Romney campaign has been able to deftly pivot to the economy," said Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak. "But lately that has been impossible."
Some Romney supporters are less alarmed. They say it has been clear for months that a singular focus on jobs was not moving Romney ahead of Obama in the polls. Romney's and Ryan's attention to Medicare was wise, they say, and the foreign trip was essential, even if imperfectly executed.
"Taxes and Medicare and debt are all part of the economic message," said Barbara Comstock, a Virginia legislator attending the GOP convention.
Election Day is 10 weeks away. Medicare, foreign policy and gauzier questions such as "vision" and "likability" will play roles in its outcome.
But many Republicans say the struggling economy remains their best issue by far, and Romney can ill-afford another series of distractions like those from the mid-summer.
"For the Romney campaign, every second not spent talking about the economy has an opportunity cost," Mackowiak said. "That cost increases as the campaign winds down."
EDITOR'S NOTE — Charles Babington covers national politics for The Associated Press.
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