Some of the Republican delegates used their found time to look past November and plot the 2016 election year. Others bonded over board games, movies, shopping and the spa.
One said that the decision to scrap the first day of the Republican National Convention because of the threatening weather meant extra time to think about checking out Tampa, Florida’s strip clubs.
“I’d like to make it rain in one of those places,” said Frank Capone, a 27-year-old delegate from Medford, Massachusetts.
The convention is scheduled to begin today as Tropical Storm Isaac turned away from Florida and moved toward Louisiana. The RNC delayed the convention after forecasts showed Tampa as a potential storm target.
Some delegates were second-guessing the 2010 decision to hold the convention in Tampa during hurricane season.
“The location is not ideal,” said James Cohen, 49, a real estate developer and natural gas consultant from Virginia Beach, Virginia, whose hotel was a half-hour from the convention site. “Having to deal with the transportation issues to and from really separates you.”
Yet Florida is a key battleground, so if holding the convention in the state helps Mitt Romney defeat President Barack Obama it will have been worth it, Cohen said.
Cohen said he wasn’t planning to party with his extra time. “We’re on business,” he said. “We’re working on 2016, and on our state and local elections,” he said. “What if Obama wins this thing?”
‘Fired Us Up’
Delegations went ahead with scheduled breakfasts, with speakers including two of Romney’s sons, Matt and Josh, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Matthew Arnold, 59, a retiree from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, said Christie’s speech to his delegation “fired us up pretty good” when he said North Carolina was a state the Republicans could take back from Obama.
Ron Weinberg, 70, a private-equity investor from Cleveland, said he and other delegates had plenty to talk about with the extra hours.
“Any time you get together a group of active and motivated supporters, there’s just a lot of shop talk about the election,” he said.
Monica Owens, 29, of Denver, director of Colorado Women for Mitt, said some delegates were headed to the movies to see “2016: Obama’s America,” an anti-Obama film. She had no gripes with Tampa as the site, saying, “Hey, a year ago there was an earthquake in D.C. You never know what’s going to happen.”
On Aug. 23, 2011, a 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck about 90 miles (144 kilometers) southwest of Washington.
Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said in an e-mail that he and other committee members who selected Tampa “baked into our discussions” potential storm scenarios and even had a briefing from a local meteorologist.
At the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, about 20 minutes outside of Tampa, members of the Florida and South Carolina delegations made spa appointments, hit the gym, rested at the pool in between rain showers and spent a little more time at the bar to pass the time on Monday.
“We’re Republicans, so sometimes we actually participate in adult beverages,” said Sid Dinerstein, 66, chairman of the Republican Party of Palm Beach County.