Meteorologists and Republican National Convention planners grew more concerned Wednesday about the potential for Tropical Storm Isaac to develop into a hurricane aimed squarely at Tampa, Fla., the host city of the GOP convention beginning Monday.
In response to the increasingly dire reports, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said safety concerns would trump politics, even if that might mean shutting down the four-day convention.
"If we had to make that decision to cancel or to postpone or move the convention, we will do that knowing full well that my obligation and the city’s obligation is to move people out of harm's way. The politics will take care of itself," Buckhorn said Wednesday morning on CNN's "Starting Point" with Soledad O'Brien.
A canceled postponed or hastily moved convention would be a major setback for the GOP presidential ticket. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan could use a flawless convention to help them recover from a difficult week that began with last Sunday's comments by Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) about "legitimate rape" and pregnancy.
A postponement or relocation would also be a huge blow to the city of Tampa, which expects the convention to bring 50,000 visitors and more than $150 million in revenue to the area over the next week.
Meteorologists are careful to note that Isaac's precise course won't be clear until about Thursday, when it reaches the mountainous areas of the Antilles in the Caribbean and begins a projected northward turn. But things aren't looking good.
At midday on Wednesday, Accuweather.com reported that "current projections bring Isaac, now a strengthening tropical storm, to Florida's neighborhood during the first part of next week" and that the storm system could reach "Category 1 or 2 hurricane effects."
Category 2 hurricanes have sustained wind speeds between 96 and 110 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center, which means affected regions can expect that "many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads" and that "near-total power loss ... could last from several days to weeks."