ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. - A tropical storm heading in the direction of the Florida coast is shaking up the schedule for the roughly 750 California Republicans set to gather in Tampa as delegates, alternates and guests at the Republican National Convention.
Convention officials decided today to postpone much of Monday's schedule in light of Tropical Storm Isaac, which is expected to strengthen into a hurricane in the coming days.
The forecast for severe weather is also causing some logistical challenges for the California delegation, which is staying at the oceanside TradeWinds Resort in St. Pete Beach.
"Our parties and what's happening at the convention (are) going to change probably daily as we try to adapt to whatever the hurricane or the storm is going to bring to us," Don Willet, the chief operating officer for the delegation, told delegates Saturday night.
Officials already moved to cancel the delegation's Monday night host party, but are working to make alternative plans.
California delegation organizers are also looking into changing the location of a Tuesday brunch featuring House Speaker John Boehner, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Rep. Darrell Issa that was scheduled to take place on the beach of another resort.
At least one delegate found himself stranded at an airport en route to Tampa Saturday. It was unclear how the storm will affect travel plans of the roughly 200 California attendees expected to arrive after today.
Delegation spokesman Mitch Zak said organizers are monitoring the weather, but planning at this point to continue with the rest of the scheduled events, including a Monday breakfast for delegates with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. The hotel staff assured organizers that the site will be a safe space to remain during the storm.
"It's not a matter of if these events will take place, but when and how," Zak said.
Zak said he isn't worried about the weather dampening the spirits of the delegation. If anything, he said, missing Monday's scheduled festivities will make delegates even more excited when Tuesday's session arrives.
Few members of the delegation seemed worried about the storm as they gathered on the sand for a Beach Blanket Party Saturday night. Attendees noshed on buffet offerings like Spanish paella with mussels, lobster, chicken and fish and sipped beer, wine and mojitos from a host bar as a live band played and fireworks popped over the ocean.
In fact, some said they were looking forward to a storm.
"I hope it rains like hell," said delegate Don Genhart. "We don't see any rain in Palm Desert."
PHOTO CREDIT: California Republicans gather on the beach in St. Pete Beach to celebrate their arrival for the Republican National Convention. Torey Van Oot, Sacramento Bee.