Days Before the Republican National Convention, ‘Hurricane’ Isaac Marks Tampa’s Excitement

BY Paul Solman  August 24, 2012 at 3:18 PM EDT

Paul Solman and Douglas Holtz-Eakin
Paul Solman interviews Douglas Holtz-Eakin, left, former chief economic policy advisor to John McCain in 2008 in Tampa, Fla. before the Republican National Convention gets underway.

Just leaving Tampa today as the bulk of the Republican Party arrives. The main story of the past few days has been “Hurricane” Isaac and whether it will hammer the convention. I was standing in line for lunch at the Tampa Bay Times Forum — the convention’s arena. The fellow next to me turned out to be an increasingly exasperated party press person (or maybe the head of communications). He was successfully restraining his ire; his order had been given to someone else.

“It’s been 25 minutes,” he told me, “and by the time I get back, there will be 100 emails asking me about the hurricane.” And this was Tuesday.

If this suggests that real news was hard to come by, so be it. I will hardly be the first to inform you the days of booing down Nelson Rockefeller (’64) and seating the Mississippi Freedom Party (’68) are long gone. Indeed, the most exciting event at my first convention, the Democrats in New York in 1976, was a townhouse party given by Rolling Stone Magazine at which I met John Belushi. Here’s one account of the madness. (The ’76 convention is often remembered for black Texas congresswoman Barbara Jordan’s stirring speech and the rousing response of the faithful, but I was on the floor and didn’t understand even a sentence, nor, I’m pretty sure, did anyone else. But Ms. Jordan’s cadence was so unmistakable, everyone knew when to cheer.)

Back here in Tampa, no such excitement. Isaac still threatens, if just barely, but with the regular afternoon downpours we’ve experienced all week, the town should be accustomed to a bit of flooding.

John McCain’s economic advisor from 2008, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, was nice enough to fly here to make the case for what we’ve been calling “Republicanomics,” version 2012. In addition we spent some time with local businessmen who identify as party loyalists: Kevin Wright of Thundershirts and Lahnie Johnson of Acoustiblok. All will be in our story about the Republican economic platform, slated to run on the show Friday night.

This entry is cross-posted on the Rundown- NewsHour’s blog of news and insight.