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Republicans set to nominate Romney as Isaac looms

 A woman jogs along Bayshore Boulevanrd in between squalls blowing across the bay in Tampa, Fla., Monday, Aug. 27, 2012. The Republican National Conve...
 Delegates watch a video presentation during an abbreviated session of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, Aug. 27, 2012.  (...
 Demonstrators march through the streets of Tampa, Fla., to protest the Republican National Convention on Monday, Aug. 27, 2012.  (AP Photo/Patrick Se...
 Chairman of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus gavels closed the abbreviated  first session the Republican National Convention in Tampa...
 Chairman of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus gavels the Republican National Convention open in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, Aug. 27, 2012....
 Chairman of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus speaks to delegates during an abbreviated session the Republican National Convention in ...
 Delegates watch a video presentation during an abbreviated session of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, Aug. 27, 2012. (A...
 Vermin Supreme walks with demonstrators marching through the streets of Tampa, Fla., to protest the Republican National Convention on Monday, Aug. 27...
 Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and his wife Ann, arrive at Brewster Academy, for convention preparations in...
 A police officer watches demonstrators marching through the streets of Tampa, Fla., to protest the Republican National Convention on Monday, Aug. 27,...
 Demonstrators march through the streets of Tampa, Fla., to protest the Republican National Convention on Monday, Aug. 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Patrick Sem...
 A Secret Service agent stand on the stage after an abbreviated session of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, Aug. 27, 2012...
 New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tours the convention floor before the opening session of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., Monday, Au...
 Delegates from Texas pray during an abbreviated session of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, Aug. 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Cha...
 Ingrid Fuhriman from Bellevue, Wash., and Natalie Lavering from Lake Stevens, Wash., cheer as they watch a video presentation during an abbreviated s...

APTOPIX Tropical Weather

A woman jogs along Bayshore Boulevanrd in between squalls blowing across the bay in Tampa, Fla., Monday, Aug. 27, 2012. The Republican National Conve...

Republican Convention

Delegates watch a video presentation during an abbreviated session of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, Aug. 27, 2012. (...

Republican Convention Protests

Demonstrators march through the streets of Tampa, Fla., to protest the Republican National Convention on Monday, Aug. 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Patrick Se...

APTOPIX Republican Covention

Chairman of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus gavels closed the abbreviated first session the Republican National Convention in Tampa...

Republican Convention

Chairman of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus gavels the Republican National Convention open in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, Aug. 27, 2012....

APTOPIX Republican Convention

Chairman of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus speaks to delegates during an abbreviated session the Republican National Convention in ...

Republican Convention

Delegates watch a video presentation during an abbreviated session of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, Aug. 27, 2012. (A...

Republican Convention Protests

Vermin Supreme walks with demonstrators marching through the streets of Tampa, Fla., to protest the Republican National Convention on Monday, Aug. 27...

Romney Getting Personal

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and his wife Ann, arrive at Brewster Academy, for convention preparations in...

Republican Convention Protests

A police officer watches demonstrators marching through the streets of Tampa, Fla., to protest the Republican National Convention on Monday, Aug. 27,...

Republican Convention Protests

Demonstrators march through the streets of Tampa, Fla., to protest the Republican National Convention on Monday, Aug. 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Patrick Sem...

Republican Convention

A Secret Service agent stand on the stage after an abbreviated session of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, Aug. 27, 2012...

Republicain Convention

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tours the convention floor before the opening session of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., Monday, Au...

Republican Convention

Delegates from Texas pray during an abbreviated session of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, Aug. 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Cha...

Republican Convention

Ingrid Fuhriman from Bellevue, Wash., and Natalie Lavering from Lake Stevens, Wash., cheer as they watch a video presentation during an abbreviated s...

The storm-shortened Republican National Convention begins in earnest Tuesday, a three-day coronation of Mitt Romney as the party's rival to President Barack Obama. Republicans seek to use the high-profile stage to rally their base, win over undecided voters and humanize a candidate often seen as aloof and wooden.
Once the scene of dramatic floor fights and backroom deals that determined nominees, U.S. political conventions are now carefully orchestrated spectacles with few surprises. Romney locked up the nomination months ago so there will be no drama in the roll call of state delegates affirming his nomination Tuesday.
Still, conventions are among the most closely watched events in the campaign, allowing the candidates to lay out their visions directly to millions of television viewers and marking the start of the final stretch in the marathon presidential race.
And even the most carefully crafted convention inevitably has surprises _ such as the cancellation of the first day's activities Monday because of Tropical Storm Isaac. Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus gaveled the session to order Monday, then immediately recessed it.
Though the storm no longer threatens Tampa, it could affect the convention. It could reach hurricane strength and make landfall along the northern Gulf of Mexico coast, forcing Romney to share the spotlight.
Republicans may also have to scale down their celebration so they are not seen as partying as the storm barrels toward land. Democrats have sought to cast Romney and fellow Republicans as indifferent to the hardships of non-wealthy Americans and Republicans recall how President George W. Bush was roundly criticized for his handling of Hurricane Katrina in the same region that killed 1,800 people almost exactly 7 years ago. Bush is not attending the convention.
Romney said Monday that he hoped those in the storm's path would be "spared any major destruction" but indicated there were no thoughts of canceling the convention.
Romney was coming to Tampa on Tuesday, in time to see his wife Ann's speech in the evening, although it was kept a mystery whether he would attend the convention before his big acceptance address Thursday night.
The Republican gathering, followed by next week's Democratic convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, comes as opinion polls show the presidential race about even, with each candidate possessing distinct and important advantages: Obama is the more likable or empathetic leader; Romney is more highly regarded as the candidate who can restore the economy, the top issue for voters.
Obama and other Democrats have attacked Romney's business experience, claiming that the private equity firm he once headed, Bain Capital, made a fortune for investors while bankrupting some companies and laying off workers.
Ann Romney's convention speech was an important part of the party's effort to flesh out her husband and present him to the nation as more than a successful businessman and former governor of Massachusetts.
Republicans will also look to use the convention to shift the debate to Obama's stewardship of the economy. It is widely seen as their strongest issue, but they have struggled to keep it at the top of the political agenda. Romney had to fight off Republican rivals in a months-long primary battle and has had to defend himself against questions about his taxes and offshore accounts.
Romney's candidacy has received only lackluster enthusiasm among some Republicans who question his commitment to conservative positions given his more moderate stances on abortion, gay rights and gun control as governor of Massachusetts, a liberal, traditionally Democratic state. Republicans are increasingly energized and influenced by the anti-tax, small-government-oriented tea party movement, whose members tend to see political moderation and compromise as akin to betrayal.
But Romney thrilled conservatives by naming one of their favorites, congressman Paul Ryan, as his vice presidential running mate.
The convention offers Romney a chance to shore up his support among social conservatives in the party's base. But he managed to stir up the pot over abortion, if briefly, when he said in a CBS television interview Monday that he opposes abortions except "in the case of rape and incest, and the health and life of the mother."
Any exceptions made solely on the basis of a woman's health have drawn particularly fierce criticism from abortion foes for years, because they argue such an exception is so broad as to do nothing to limit the procedure.
But Romney's aides quickly said he wasn't, in fact, advocating an exemption for a woman's health. "He opposes abortion except for cases of rape, incest and where the life of the mother is threatened," said Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman. Still, his comment underscored his difference of opinion on the subject with his running mate, Ryan, as well as with his party's convention platform, which opposes all abortions.
With the economy seen as Romney's strong suit, and Obama's economic record considered a fat target in a time of persistent unemployment over 8 percent, Republicans, both from the convention stage and the floor, want to keep a laser focus on the subject.
"This week is about convincing the 10 percent of undecided voters that Romney has always been called to come out and fix broken organizations," said U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, interviewed on the convention floor.
Romney's acceptance speech Thursday night will be the highlight of the convention. Other major events include the keynote address Tuesday by New Jersey's colorful governor, Chris Christie. Ryan delivers his acceptance speech Wednesday.
Democrats, for their part, said that if the Republican convention proceeds as planned Tuesday, they would resume their on-site efforts in Tampa to counter the Republican message. Democrats had several employees who worked for companies adversely impacted by Bain in Tampa to talk to the media.
In Washington, Obama worked Monday on preparations for Isaac, declaring a state of emergency in Louisiana, speaking with governors and directing federal officials to coordinate disaster relief with state and local officials along the Gulf Coast.
Obama was still planning a two-day campaign trip to college campuses in the battleground states of Iowa, Colorado and Virginia, beginning Tuesday morning. In a boost to Obama's convention, Florida's former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist was added as a speaker. Crist had announced on Sunday that he was endorsing Obama, saying he was the correct choice and criticizing his former party for moving too far to the right.
____
Associated Press writers Donna Cassata, Brian Bakst, Thomas Beaumont, Tamara Lush, Brendan Farrington and Julie Mazziotta in Florida; Steve Peoples in New Hampshire; and Calvin Woodward, Steven Ohlemacher, Alicia A. Caldwell and Jennifer Agiesta in Washington contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-10-25 13:27 GMT+08:00