By Hannah Harrison
Two events have people running for cover in Tampa this week: Hurricane Isaac and the Republican National Convention. Around 50,000 people have come from across the nation and the world to perform the most essential function of a national convention – nominate Governor Mitt Romney and Senator Paul Ryan to the Republican presidential ticket.
Conventions, however, serve another equally as important but perhaps under-appreciated purpose. These four days in Tampa will be an opportunity for Republicans to unify under a common goal (the nomination), to reinvigorate party members tired from a long campaign, and to get ready for that final push toward November.
The RNC hosts a multitude of important and fascinating guests. One such group is the International Republican Institute (IRI), which hosts foreign diplomats from conservative parties from across the globe. Some 150 international leaders have convened in Tampa to observe the RNC, meet with political advisors and American politicians, and have the opportunity to discuss what American foreign policy might look like under the next administration.
These high powered men and women shape the conservative movements in their own nations and will take away from the RNC a deeper understanding of the atmosphere of American politics. They will come to understand that we are a divided nation, but the division is narrow, nuanced, and difficult to govern by.
Other visitors to the RNC are less welcome. Hurricane Isaac has been a major concern for those responsible for the incredible planning and logistical efforts that go into making the RNC run smoothly. Despite the cancellation of Day 1 of the convention (Monday), Hurricane Isaac hasn’t actually posed much of a threat to the Tampa area. Other than rainstorms that seem to appear out of nowhere and depart just as quickly, the convention will carry on today (Tuesday) hopefully without a hitch.
What does a shortened convention mean for RNC? Well, in the case of the business of nominating and confirming a candidate, not much has changed. However, the media frenzy over Hurricane Isaac may detract valuable attention away from the convention and the Republican’s desire to reintroduce their candidate as the warm, friendly Mitt Romney we can all know, love, and most importantly, vote for in November.
Can Romney be the most effective media darling possible with the three days remaining? We’ll know by Thursday night when he addresses the delegates and what will surely be a packed house at the Tampa Bay Forum to shape for the nation his vision of the next four years.
Hannah Harrison is a graduate student at UAF and attending the RNC as part of the Washington Center’s academic seminar program. She graduated from Homer High School.
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