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How hurricanes taunt Republicans

For the second presidential cycle in a row, Republicans are seeing their best-laid convention plans challenged by Mother Nature.

The emergence of Tropical Storm Isaac as a threat to Florida and other Gulf Coast states this week has placed convention organizers on alert to the potential impact every gust and squall will have on an event years in the planning. 

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It has also forced organizers to contemplate not only the safety of GOP delegates, but the optics of holding a political celebration in the midst of a possible natural disaster. 

Four years ago, the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., delayed most planned first day festivities until the second day of the convention because of Hurricane Gustav, the first major storm aimed at New Orleans since Katrina in 2005. 

Now another storm is prompting evacuations in some places near Louisiana on the even of this year's GOP convention. And it also could hit the convention site itself in Tampa.

The 2008 convention’s original seven-hour opening day schedule was compressed to two hours, most of which was spent satisfying the legal requirements of opening the convention. President George W. Bush stayed in Washington to monitor the storm, addressing the convention by satellite. 

The Republican National Committee has faced questions about its decision to hold the convention in Florida during the height of hurricane season, but the party has had good luck in the Sunshine State in the past. 

This is the third GOP convention in Florida — the 1968 and 1972 conventions were held at the Miami Beach Convention Center — but it is the only one to be threatened by a hurricane.

Tampa beat out Salt Lake City and Phoenix, partly because the Tampa Bay area has the largest concentration of swing voters in the nation’s largest swing state.

Before 2008, the last time a GOP convention had to contend with a hurricane was in 1992, when Hurricane Andrew slammed into South Florida four days after the GOP convention was held in the Astrodome in Houston.