As Isaac moves closer, GOP announces changes to convention schedule

Stage manager Howard Kolins appears on displays during preparations for the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 26, 2012 in Tampa, Fla. The RNC is scheduled to convene on August 27 and will hold its first session on August 28.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

(CBS News) TAMPA, Fla. - Mitt Romney's campaign and Republican National Committee are determined not to let Tropical Storm Isaac rain on their parade.

A new schedule has been released reflecting the tightened time frame of the Republican National Convention, which will now take place Tuesday through Thursday. The GOP will gavel in to start the convention at 2 p.m. ET Monday, but then immediately recess until 2 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Isaac is expected to pass the Tampa area late Monday.

Tuesday evening, the primetime speakers include Mrs. Luce Vele Fortuno (wife of Puerto Rico's Gov. Luis Fortuno), who will be followed by Ann Romney. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will button up the night, delivering his keynote address at the end of the evening.

On a conference call with reporters, Romney senior adviser Russ Schriefer would not rule out the possibility of extending the convention to Friday, should weather continue to prohibit events from going on as planned. "Our concern has to be with the people who are in the path of the storm. All of this is taken into consideration."

He also noted that despite the shortened schedule, most of the headliners that were planning to speak on Monday are now squeezed into other speaking slots. "We were able to eliminate some parts of the program that weren't essential in order to retain some of our headliners," said Schriefer.

One unique convention feature that was originally slated to begin Monday will still kick off as planned - a debt clock. Throughout his campaign, Romney has often stumped with a large, electronic debt clock behind him on stage, to accentuate his message of the economic failures of the Obama administration. There is already a debt clock up and running in the Tampa Bay Times Forum where the convention is to take place. When RNC chairman Reince Priebus gavels in on Monday afternoon, a fresh one will start at zero, and end Thursday night, to show how much debt the U.S. accumulated during those four days.

Despite the storm preps going on outside all day Sunday, inside the Forum, convention activity was buzzing all day. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and South Carolina's Governor Nikki Haley both took to the stage to survey the premises at various points, and G.E. Smith's band rehearsed some rock and roll classics during an afternoon sound check. The main stage, which boasts 13 large LED screens, displayed images of Neil Armstrong for much the day, an apparent foreshadowing of a tribute to the astronaut who passed away Sunday.

Meantime, Romney and his wife headed to Brewster Academy in New Hampshire to prep for their convention speeches. When asked if he was concerned for Florida residents bracing for Isaac, he said, "Hope everybody's fine there. Concerned about the people that are gonna be affected by it."

He was then asked if he was concerned about Isaac's potential effect on the convention.

"Gonna be a great convention," he said.

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