After the Washington Post reported Friday that the Republican Party was considering postponing its convention because of Hurricane Gustav, the convention’s president and CEO, Maria Cino, told C-SPAN, “We have been planning this convention for 18 months, and the gavel will go down on Monday.”
But now, no less of an authority than the presumptive nominee himself, John McCain, says he may insist on the convention being postponed or curtailed in some way, depending on what Gustav does. “It just wouldn’t be appropriate to have a festive occasion while a near-tragedy or a terrible challenge is presented in the form of a natural disaster,” he says in a taped interview for tomorrow’s “Fox News Sunday.”
One thing McCain may want to consider is that Gustav, though it’s getting all the attention right now, isn’t the only tropical threat out there:
The one on the right is Tropical Storm Hanna, which could be menacing Florida by the end of the week. At present, it is not officially forecasted to become a hurricane, but that could change; some of the models think it could be a Category 2 or 3 hurricane in three days’ time! If that happens, a couple days’ delay in the convention could potentially create a new conflict, this time involving the convention coinciding with a landfalling hurricane in the key electoral swing state of Florida.
Moreover, if the convention is delayed by longer than a couple of days — say, by a week or two — it could still run into problems, as there are various other areas with some possibility for development. (It is the peak of the hurricane season, after all.) And while Dwight D. Eisenhower may have been a GOP favorite, I don’t think a “Hurricane Ike” would be a welcome guest at a Republican convention later in September.
Then again, when McCain talks about “postponing” the convention, I’m not sure if that really contemplates the notion of actually rescheduling the entire four-day event, or simply compressing it (i.e., postponing the start, and doing everything on, say, Wednesday and Thursday). I’m highly skeptical of whether it would be possible to reschedule the whole Monday-Thursday convention to, for example, Wednesday-Saturday; I imagine that would pose enormous — perhaps insurmountable — logistical problems, such as finding enough hotel space, re-booking event sites, etc. etc. There’s a reason these things are planned 18 months in advance, as Ms. Cino said. You can’t just reschedule them on a moment’s notice. At least, that would be my assumption.
Another problem is, at some point, the GOP needs to formally choose a nominee. I don’t know what all the different states’ ballot access rules and deadlines are, but I would assume there is only so long the party can wait, in that regard. This is probably what “curtailing” the convention refers to: the possibility of having a low-key roll call to nominate McCain and Palin, without all the hoopla and made-for-TV speechifying that usually goes with it.