12:15pm UPDATE: Scott has indicated that, at this point, he doesn't anticipate that the convention will be canceled. Local, state, federal and RNC officials are meeting regularly to decide what to do.
Gov. Rick Scott is preparing for the worst—a major hurricane bearing down on Tampa Bay during the Republican National Convention.
The governor said “hopefully that will not happen” and “everything’s going to work out,” but he’s also planning for the opposite. He has directed the state’s division of emergency management to activate the emergency operations center, and is holding regular meetings with a group of stakeholders.
The Republican National Convention organizers will have the final say over whether to cancel or shorten the convention because of Tropical Storm Isaac, currently headed toward Haiti.
But local, state and federal officials will be at the table as well.
“I have convened local, state, federal and convention officials for twice daily briefings,” Scott said. “The goal is to make sure everyone has the best information available, a complete picture of the situation.”
Scott will be heading to the Tampa area on Sunday for the convention, where he is among the opening day primetime speakers.
He’ll be staying at the Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor, more than 30 minutes from the Tampa Bay Times Forum that houses the convention. The rest of the Florida delegation will be there as well, which some believe was a punishment for the state bucking the party and holding an early primary vote.
“I guess that's now one benefit of being further away from the beach,” Scott said.
Tropical Storm Isaac is heading toward the islands of Haiti and Cuba, and could hit Florida early next week.
Scott did not say when a final decision would be made as to whether to cancel or modify plans for the convention.
During a drill exercise in May that simulated a hurricane hitting Tampa on the Tuesday of RNC week, the Division of Emergency Management began considering options on the Thursday before the convention. By the weekend, in the drill, the decision was made to cancel the convention.
“Public safety. That’s going to be the number one priority,” said Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll at the time. “We can have the convention again, but public safety.”