TAMPA, Fla. - With Tropical Storm Isaac expected to strengthen and make landfall just hours after Tuesday's proceedings at the Republican National Convention come to a close, many Americans here and at home will be watching with one eye focused on the political action in Tampa and another firmly fixed on the churning 800 mile wide storm.
The convention is moving forward as planned but organizers stress that they have the flexibility to adjust the schedule as needed.
Republican officials had already taken steps to squeeze the four-day convention into three, and on a conference call with reporters yesterday Romney campaign strategist Russ Schriefer emphasized, "we expect no change over the next three days."
He acknowledged, however, that both GOP and campaign staff were monitoring the weather situation "very closely" in case any adjustments in programming or tone are needed.
Already the Romney campaign has made one additional change to the schedule - a very important one. Instead of arriving ahead of his speech on Thursday, Mitt Romney will now fly to Tampa today to be on hand for his wife Ann's speech on this first full day of the RNC.
The campaign has yet to publicly release details of exactly what Romney will do tonight. But it's almost certain that we'll hear Ann Romney make the case why women voters should back her husband.
While Democrats are in full-out attack mode on the GOP ticket over issues like abortion, Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin's controversial comments about rape, and birth control, the economy remains the most important issue to women.
But, as our latest ABC News-Washington Post poll shows, there is a big gender gap on this issue that Romney needs to bridge. While 56 percent of men think that Romney would do a better job handling the economy than Obama, women are evenly divided. Forty-seven percent think Obama would do better compared to 45 percent who believe Romney is the better man for the job.
A majority of women (52 percent) think Obama "better understands the economic problems people in this country are having" compared to 42 percent of men.
Ann Romney's biggest challenge tonight is not simply to try and convince women voters that he's a good man, husband and father, but that he feels their pain on the economy and can do something about it.
ABC's DAVID MUIR: Ann Romney just might have the most important task of the week: Answering the question: Who is Mitt? Can she change perceptions among Americans who find the President far more 'likeable'?
NOTED: Muir reported for "World News" last night on two of Mitt Romney's biggest hurdles this week - convincing middle-class Americans he understands their concerns and overcoming huge polling deficits against President Obama when it comes to being likeable. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/PnGKoO
ABC's RICK KLEIN: Mitt Romney gets to Tampa today - just in time. No, not to avoid the rain, or even to see Ann's speech - just in time to start reclaiming his convention. It's not anyone else's, but neither is it fully his. Talk to slightly bored delegates on the floor, and you're more likely to hear about the grassroots fight over future convention rules, and Ron Paul forces still don't like the Romney campaign/RNC compromise. More broadly, there a tremendous stream of enthusiasm and energy in Tampa - to beat President Obama, not necessarily to elect Mitt Romney. As Gov. Chris Christie said today on "Good Morning America," "Mitt Romney's going to have to win this campaign." He can start with this convention.
AT THE CONVENTION: FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS: NOMINATE ROMNEY. ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield reports: At 2 p.m. on Tuesday, when the Republican National Convention reconvenes after taking a recess for Tropical Storm Isaac, the first order of business will be officially to nominate Mitt Romney. Romney is nominated through a roll call, in which each state plus American-held territories will vote for the candidate. When Romney hits 1,144 votes, he will have officially clinched the GOP nomination for president. The order of the voting will proceed alphabetically, which means that theoretically, Missouri will be the state to put Romney over the top. After Missouri has voted, 1,148 votes will have been submitted. http://abcn.ws/SLISvO
DIANE SAWYER SITS DOWN WITH ROMNEY SONS AND SPEAKER BOEHNER:
-THE ROMNEYS: 'NONE OF US EXPECTED WE'D BE HERE.' Mitt Romney's sons spoke with ABC's Diane Sawyer on "World News" about their father's presidential nomination in Tampa. ABC's Ben Forer writes: "None of us expected we'd be here," Josh Romney, 37, told ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer when she interviewed all five of Romney's sons this morning. "It'll be a big moment for us to watch our dad go up there and accept the nomination. It's pretty exciting for us." The brothers arrived in Tampa before their parents, who have been in Boston preparing their speeches. Ann Romney will address the convention Tuesday, her husband Thursday. "I talked to my dad and it's driving him crazy that we're all here right now and all together and he's up in Boston today working on the speech," Josh Romney said. "He and my mom are going crazy. They want to come down and hang out with us … but they've got a lot of work to be doing." WATCH Diane Sawyer's interview here: http://abcn.ws/PNSmlC
-BOEHNER WORRIES MORE FOR GULF COAST. ABC's Diane Sawyer spoke with House Speaker John Boehner, who is serving as chair of the GOP convention in Tampa this week. ABC's Gregory J. Krieg writes: Fears that the Republican convention in Tampa, Fla., would be washed out by Tropical Storm Isaac have taken a backseat to concern for neighboring Gulf Coast states and New Orleans, House Speaker John Boehner said today during an exclusive interview with "World News" anchor Diane Sawyer. "It's going to be a question of how strong does this storm build in this water out in the Gulf of Mexico," Boehner said. "After what they've been through with Katrina, to have another big hurricane come there, it's a cause for concern." http://abcn.ws/RpVt6a
DEMOCRATIC COUNTER-PROGRAMMING. Democrats have some counter-messaging in store Tuesday in Tampa: a banner-toting airplane, full-page newspaper ads, a digital billboard directed at the convention hall and a new online anti-Romney attack ad, according to ABC's Devin Dwyer. The newspaper spread will run in the Tampa Bay Tribune hitting "Romney-Ryan-Akin" on their opposition to abortion rights. "Taking away a woman's decision - any way they 'kin," it reads. The airplane circling above the convention center will pull the message: "Romney-Ryan-Akin: Too Extreme for Women" The digital billboard and web video will paint Romney as an "outsourcer" who shipped jobs overseas. "Mitt Romney: you didn't built that. You destroyed it," the video says. WATCH: http://bit.ly/NzquzH
OBAMA HITS THE ROAD: As Isaac bears down on New Orleans and the Gulf coast, President Obama hits the campaign trail undeterred today for a two-day college tour meant to energize younger voters and steal some of the spotlight from the Republican Convention in Florida. Officials at Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago said they were closely monitoring the storm but decided to proceed with scheduled rallies at Iowa State University in Ames this afternoon and Colorado State University in Ft. Collins this evening. Obama has an event planned near the University of Virginia in Charlottesville on Wednesday. "The President and his team will continue to monitor the storm and he will receive briefings throughout the day," an Obama campaign official told ABC News. "There are no scheduling updates at this time."
ON AN IPAD NEAR YOU: ABC News announced the release of new updates to the ABC News App for the iPad that bring users inside the 2012 Republican and Democratic National Conventions. Three screen live streams on the iPad and desktop provide users with up-to-the-minute convention coverage through a combination of live streaming video and social media feeds. ABC News Digital is revolutionizing the way users watch and participate in news, leading the charge for original and live digital news coverage.
with ABC's Chris Good ( @c_good)
RNC PLANNERS REMAIN 'CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC.' Joining ABC's Amy Walter and Yahoo! News' David Chalian for our live-streamed ABC/Yahoo! coverage in Tampa, Republican National Convention Communications Director James Davis said organizers are "cautiously optimistic" and are looking at the convention schedule with an "abundance of caution" as Republicans take on their mission of the week: to "get our nominee Mitt Romney and our vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan and move them forward to the general election," ABC's Arlette Saenz reports. http://abcn.ws/NTM7k1
MITT AND ANN KEEP PRACTICING. For the second day in a row, Mitt and Ann Romney practiced their convention speeches at a high school auditorium. ABC's David Muir reports from Boston for "World News" on Ann Romney's speech, scheduled for tonight: "She'll talk about Mitt Romney the husband, the father, the grandfather-a story they need to tell." WATCH David Muir's "World News" segment here: http://abcn.ws/NzLRAP
ALSO-RANS SPEAK OUT AT GOP CONVENTION. ABC's Jonathan Karl spoke with GOP presidential contenders Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, and Newt Gingrich this week in Tampa, Fla. about rallying around their former rival, Mitt Romney, as the party's nominee. WATCH Jonathan Karl's interview: http://abcn.ws/U7V9ZL
PAUL RYAN GETS HOMETOWN SENDOFF. ABC's Shushannah Walshe reports from Janesville, Wis.: Paul Ryan had an emotional homecoming Monday at a rally meant to send him off to the Republican National Convention in Tampa. He hopped on the stage, after an introduction by his older brother Tobin, saying, "Hello Janesville it's good to be home!" … Brian Fitzgerald, a friend in the audience, said Ryan has the "experience and the dedication to do it." Fitzgerald also said Ryan has been calling people from Janesville that he feels helped him get to the point where he could be selected as Mitt Romney's running mate. "Paul called my mother last week and told her that he was thinking about the way he got started on this path and the people that helped him when he was getting started out and one of those people was my father," Fitzgerald said. http://abcn.ws/Pnq5Sq
CHRISTIE: WE'LL SEE MORE OF MITT ROMNEY. In an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "Good Morning America," New Jersy Gov. and Republican National Convention keynote speaker Chris Christie tells ABC's George Stephanopoulos that voters will start getting to know Mitt Romney a bit better today. "Mitt Romney's gonna have to win this campaign, and to do that over the next 70 days, he's gonna have to let American see who he is," Christie said. "I think you've seen him show a lot more of himself even since Paul Ryan" joined the GOP ticket as Romney's vice presidential running mate. "I think the American people are gonna start seeing a lot more of him. I think they're going to start seeing it tonight with Ann Romney," Christie said. Both Christie and Ann Romney are slated to speak tonight at the convention. http://abcn.ws/OsrMk1
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM CHRISTIE'S KEYNOTE SPEECH. ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield reports on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's keynote convention speech, slated for tonight: Expect about 20 minutes of why Romney should be the nominee, not so much why Obama should be voted out of office. Christie is writing the speech himself, so expect his style of frank candor. In an interview with USA Today Christie said he plans to tell "some very direct and hard truths to the people in this country about the trouble that we're in." Finally, expect that after the speech you'll hear a lot people saying that the Jersey boy was born to run … for office. http://abcn.ws/PY2lqC
POSSIBLE FLOOR FIGHT LOOMS. ABC's Michael Falcone and Chris Good report from Tampa: Tampa may have avoided the worst of the soon-to-be hurricane, but a storm of a different kind is brewing at the Republican National Convention. Members of the Republicans' National Committee from across the country may be on the verge of a messy fight over party rules on the very same day they are poised to crown Mitt Romney as their presidential nominee. At issue is whether presidential candidates can effectively pick and choose the delegates who attend the convention. Opponents of a new party rule have called it "the biggest power grab in the history of the Republican Party" while supporters are hoping to avoid a public dispute on the convention floor during a week meant to promote unity. http://abcn.ws/OsnqcE
…BUT A DEAL HAS BEEN CUT TO AVOID TROUBLE ON THE FLOOR. Trouble over the delegate rule could be avoided. Republican National Committeeman James Bopp, who had led a movement to oppose the new delegate rule on the convention floor, told ABC News that he has agreed to a deal on compromise language that would strip the provision causing concern for him, Palin, Malkin, and other RNC members. Instead of letting presidential candidates veto the delegates selected by states, the compromise language simply states that bound delegates must vote for their designated candidates at future conventions, and that if they don't they'll be removed and votes will be cast for them. Bopp no longer plans to bring a measure to the floor that would block the new rule, which Mitt Romney's backers had pushed. The RNC Rules Committee will meet Tuesday afternoon to approve the new language. http://abcn.ws/Nukm1r
PALIN STIRS THE POT. Disapproving of the proposed change to GOP delegate rules, Sarah Palin posts on her Facebook page: "Without the energy and wisdom of the grassroots, the GOP would not have had the historic 2010 electoral victories. That's why the controversial rule change being debated at the RNC convention right now is so very disappointing. It's a direct attack on grassroots activists by the GOP establishment, and it must be rejected. Please follow the link to Michelle Malkin's article about this." http://on.fb.me/QNOO14
RULE WOULD PREVENT FUTURE RON PAULS. From ABC's Chris Good and Michael Falcone: Left unaffected by Bopp's deal is another major part of the rule-one that would make it harder for candidates like Ron Paul to amass delegates and influence over the convention. In 2012, Paul's supporters focused heavily on caucus states where the Texas congressman could amass delegates without winning the statewide vote. His backers exploited their in-depth knowledge of state party rules in states where party conventions - not statewide presidential votes - determined how many delegates Paul would bring to the GOP convention in Tampa. Under the new rule, that strategy would no longer be viable, and candidates like Paul would no longer be able to gather delegates in caucus states. Instead, statewide votes would bind delegates in every primary or caucus. Paul managed to collect a plurality of delegates in four states. Had this rule applied in 2012, Paul would have collected a plurality in none. http://abcn.ws/OsnqcE
DELEGATE MOM PUSHES TO LET KIDS ON CONVENTION FLOOR IN CHARLOTTE. ABC's Amy Bingham reports: One mom, Susie Shannon, a California delegate from Los Angeles, is fighting the DNC rules so her four-year-old daughter Gracie can accompany her onto the convention floor. "It's either allow children on the floor or provide child care," Shannon said. "You can't expect that every single woman who is a delegate can leave their child at home in another city for week and go to the convention." Neither the Democratic National Convention nor the Republican National Convention provide any type of child care services, although the DNC does include a list of nearby child care centers in its delegate packet. http://abcn.ws/QrBmW1
REP. JASON CHAFFETZ: NO MORE EXCUSES. ABC's Russell Goldman reports: Asked why Romney finds himself neck and neck with the president despite polls that favor the presumptive GOP candidate's position on the economy, Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz said the calendar still favors Romney but that he could no longer make "excuses" for not pulling ahead. "I happen to think at the end of the day we're not trying to win at Labor Day, we're trying to win at Election Day. I don't think it's going to be very close. Those that follow politics day in and day out already know how we're going to vote, which direction we're going to go in," Chaffetz said during an ABC News/Yahoo! Webcast from inside the Tampa Bay Times Arena, home of this week's Republican National Convention. http://abcn.ws/NZdPY8
TED CRUZ THANKS ISAAC FOR KEEPING BIDEN AWAY. ABC's Arlette Saenz reports: Republican Texas Senate candidate Ted Cruz tried to make a joke at the expense of Tropical Storm Isaac, counting it among his "blessings" that the storm kept Vice President Joe Biden from campaigning in Tampa during the Republican National Convention. "We have so many things to be thankful for. So many blessings, including even we can be thankful for Hurricane Isaac. If nothing else, it kept Joe Biden away," Cruz said Sunday at a rally organized by the Faith and Freedom Coalition. http://abcn.ws/SLVJOx
GOP'S SENATE PROSPECTS DIM. National Journal's Charlie Cook writes: "Now, the prospect of a Republican Senate majority in 2013 doesn't look as inevitable as it did just seven months ago. [Maine GOP Sen. Olympia] Snowe's retirement put Republicans' chances of winning a majority at 50 percent, down from 65 percent to 70 percent. [Missouri GOP Senate candidate and U.S. Rep. Todd] Akin's reprehensible comment further lowered those odds, at least as long as he opts to stay in the race. This seems to be his intention today, despite the near-universal call from fellow Republicans for him to put party ahead of personal ambition. The reality is that the straightest path to a Republican majority goes through Missouri. As long as Akin is the nominee, the GOP can't win the seat. And, thus, the party's route to 51 seats is steeper and a bit more circuitous." http://bit.ly/NuoRcw
CHARLOTTE POLICE GET A PREVIEW IN TAMPA. ABC's Elicia Dover reports from Tampa: The Democratic National Convention in Charlotte is only a week away and because it follows the Republican National Convention so closely, Charlotte police are in Tampa this week observing and training. Charlotte Police Chief Rodney Monroe told ABC News that he and 10 officers made the trip to the Republican convention to get a preview of the landscape of a national convention. "We just wanted to come down and take a look at operations and just kind of get a feel for things and pretty much just get a head start on it," Monroe said. http://abcn.ws/QNYJUv
IN THE NOTE'S INBOX:
-DEMOCRATIC SUPER PAC UNLEASHES NEW VIDEO FOR RNC. From the desk of the Democratic super PAC, American Bridge 21st Century: "With the convention activities getting underway tomorrow, we're releasing this new video '2012 Republican Convention: What They Really Think' which shows the fancy screens on the convention stage showing speakers criticizing Romney." WATCH: http://bit.ly/OmBnXY
@mckaycoppins : Artur Davis tells @jonward11 his convention speech won't mention race. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/27/artur-davis-republican-convention-speech_n_1831764.html?1346081406 …
- Mitt Romney travels to Tampa, Florida. Tonight Ann Romney addresses the Republican National Convention.
- Paul Ryan travels from Wisconsin to Tampa, Florida.
- President Obama is heading out on a two-day campaign trip to counter-program the GOP convention. Obama will be courting the youth vote on college campuses in the battleground states of Iowa, Colorado and Virginia. Today he's at Iowa State University and at Colorado State University.
Check out The Note's Futures Calendar : http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV