Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee stands behind the podium for a test in… (Lynne Sladky / Associated…)
TAMPA, Fla. -- Florida Gov. Rick Scott urged delegates and other attendees for the Republican National Convention to avoid unnecessary travel in the Tampa area in the coming days because of the potential impact of Tropical Storm Isaac, but said that any further decisions regarding the scheduling of events are solely up to organizers.
After a storm briefing with local, state and federal officials Sunday morning that also included Republican officials running the convention, Scott said high winds will probably be the greatest threat to the Tampa area from Isaac. Party officials called off Monday's scheduled official proceedings because of the looming storm. But many other ancillary events are still going ahead.
“What we’ve done is make sure they have all the information so they can make an informed decision. It’s their decision,” Scott said.
He did say, however, that attendees staying at hotels outside of the city center, including along the Gulf Coast, should remain at their hotels.
“Don’t start venturing into the Tampa site, because you don’t know what’s going to happen as far as your ability to get home,” he said.
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Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor said with the track of Isaac now further west of the area, they don’t expect conditions so severe that it would “prohibit anyone from doing what they want to do.” But if the track changes and prompts a public safety threat, they would react accordingly, including moving people into shelters.
The latest track has Isaac potentially making landfall near the Florida Panhandle as a hurricane. Scott said a major concern is flooding since that region is still saturated after sustained rainfall from Tropical Storm Debbie. Scott himself is likely to leave Tampa on Monday morning to focus on the storm response, but said no security resources will need to be diverted from the city as of yet.
Scott said he spoke twice Saturday with Mitt Romney, who is to accept his party’s nomination for president here Thursday. Romney’s great concern “was what’s happening to the citizens of our state,” Scott said, and that visitors to the area for the convention stay safe.
President Obama later spoke with Scott to "make clear that the administration, through FEMA, would continue to make resources available as necessary to support the state." According to the White House, Obama also offered additional resources to the state, including ones to support "efforts to ensure the safety of those visiting the state" for the GOP's convention.
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Scott refused to call it a mistake for Republicans to schedule their convention in the state near the peak of hurricane season.
“The convention was a big opportunity for our state to show what a great place it is to live, work and play. Now what they’re going to find out this week is we know how to deal with hurricanes. We’re prepared,” he said.