KEY WEST, Fla.—Tropical Storm Isaac promised to give the Republican National Convention a good drenching Monday after lashing the Florida Keys with wind and rain but apparently causing little damage over the weekend.
In the Florida Keys, Monroe County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Becky Herrin said there were no injuries and few reports of damage as the storm crossed near Key West on Sunday.
Much of the rest of South Florida remained under a tornado watch early Monday as the remnants of Isaac moved across the area.
In Tampa, flooding prompted the closure of several main roads early Monday including three near downtown where the Republican convention was to be held.
With a sprawling and strengthening storm bearing down on the region, the party hastily rewrote the convention script to present the extravaganza’s prime rituals and headline speakers later in the week—Tropical Storm Isaac willing.
Nothing was certain Monday as the storm carved an unpredictable path toward the Gulf of Mexico, forcing planners to compress four days of events into three and otherwise improvise.
It was a complication, at best, for a party determined to cast the close election as a referendum on President Barack Obama’s economic stewardship and Romney as the best hope for jobs and prosperity.
From New Hampshire, where he and his wife, Ann, rehearsed their convention speeches in a high school auditorium, Romney expressed worry about the people in Isaac’s way while predicting a “great convention” nonetheless. Other officials put on a brave face, too.
But Sally Bradshaw, a Florida Republican and longtime senior aide to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, was not so sanguine. “It’s a mess all around and it’s fraught with risk,” she said. “It’s not good for anybody—particularly the people impacted by the storm.”
Before reaching Florida, Isaac was blamed for eight deaths in Haiti and two more in the Dominican Republic, and downed trees and power lines in Cuba. It bore down on the Keys two days after the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew, which caused more than $25 billion in damage and killed 26 people in South Florida.