Eyes off Mitt Romney as New Orleans braces for storm

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

After delaying the GOP convention, Isaac threatens to strike on Katrina anniversary


The ghosts of climactic – and political – calamities past stalked the Republican Party yesterday as its already foreshortened convention in Tampa risked being eclipsed by the gathering fury of Tropical Storm Isaac, which threatened to make a direct hit on New Orleans late tonight precisely seven years after Hurricane Katrina.

Happily for Mitt Romney and the organisers of the quadrennial nominating shindig, Isaac had slipped westwards in the Gulf of Mexico overnight delivering only a wet and windy slap to Tampa itself. Most of yesterday's planned events had already been scrapped but the show theoretically should begin in earnest today, ending on Thursday.

That New Orleans is now in the storm's sights is altogether less helpful, however. Depending on the storm's clout, landfall in the Mississippi late tonight and early tomorrow will surely syphon attention from the convention, a crucial stage to showcase the GOP ticket and persuade voters that Mr Romney is a human being after all and that, with running mate Paul Ryan at his side, he is the right man to deliver America from economic doldrums.

Republican officials are acutely aware also of the risks of being seen to throw a party here while a few hundred miles away Gulf Coast residents face mortal danger from the elements once again. No one of course is forgetting that Katrina is remembered in part for the bungling response of the last Republican president, George Bush. Even the expected fusillade of anti-Barack Obama firecrackers could seem out of place during a natural catastrophe.

States of emergency had been declared by the governors of Louisiana as well as of Mississippi and Alabama as Isaac's winds were set to intensify over the warm Gulf waters. More than 50,000 residents in St Charles parish near New Orleans were under evacuation orders. Forecasters said Isaac was likely to become a Category 1 hurricane (74-95mph winds) before making landfall, pulling back from earlier predictions of a Category 2 storm (96-110mph winds). That could change, however.

The threat of Isaac was clear as it battered Haiti and parts of Cuba over the weekend and tracked just west of Key West on Sunday night. A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when sustained winds exceed 74mph.

"Images of revelry by Republicans at a time of suffering by other Americans – no party wants those optics," noted Steve Schmidt, top aide to John McCain's 2008 campaign, whose own convention four years ago in Minneapolis was delayed one day when Hurricane Gustav hit the Gulf Coast. "You have terrible awareness of all that stuff."

The convention was set later yesterday to be gavelled briefly into session in the Tampa Times Forum, a downtown arena, with the firing up of a running digital national debt clock, but then suspended immediately until this afternoon. "This clock reminds every delegate and every American why we are here in Tampa – because America can and must do better," Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Comm-ittee, announced. "Every American's share of the national debt has increased by approximately $16,000 during the current administration."

Some asked if Isaac was a divine riposte to those on the right who in the past have suggested that natural calamities have been God's punishment to liberals. "Has God forsaken the Republican Party?" asked Dana Milbank of the Washington Post, noting that recent tribulations for the party have included a Senate candidate causing uproar with comments about rape and abortion, and tales of a conservative congressman skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee. "Even if you don't believe that God uses natural phenomena to express His will, it's difficult for mere mortals to explain what is happening to the GOP right now," Mr Milbank went on.

Suggested Topics
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little