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Governors in Isaac's crosshairs are canceling GOP convention trips

Southern Republicans whose states could get hit by approaching Tropical Storm Isaac are canceling GOP convention plans to stay home and make emergency preparations.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal made their announcements Sunday -- one day after the Republican National Committee said it would push back the Monday start of the four-day national convention in Tampa, Fla. The convention will begin Monday as scheduled, then immediately adjourn until Tuesday.

“Gov. Bryant has delayed his travel to the Republican convention and continues to monitor weather conditions hourly,” his office said. The governor’s main concern is the safety of the people of Mississippi.”

They join Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who made similar announcements Saturday.

Isaac has now started to lash the Florida Keys and the southern tip of the state with wind and rain. The storm has already rumbled across Haiti, where it is being blamed for seven deaths, then Cuba, where it is downing trees and power lines.  

Forecasters are warning the storm could strengthen into a Category 2 hurricane as it heads into the Gulf of Mexico. They also have said Isaac could make landfall again in the Gulf states of Alabama, Louisiana or Mississippi.

Jindal, who like Scott was expected to speak at the convention, pointed out that he canceled his speaking commitment at the party’s 2008 national convention in St. Paul., Minn., when Hurricane Gustav made landfall in Louisiana on Sept. 1.

“He not only didn’t speak, he didn’t even go,” Jindal spokesman Kyle Plotkin said. “He will certainly not leave the state if our people are in peril.”

Scott, who canceled his convention commitments Saturday, held a noon press conference Sunday in which he urged residents to take precautions and reported that power has already been knocked out in parts of the Keys.

“I know there are issues in Tampa, but we’ve got to do this for the entire state of Florida,” said Scott, who has already declared a state of emergency.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, when pressed Sunday about whether additional days could or should be canceled, said, “We’re moving forward, but we’re going to be nimble.”

He also said the party will still have plenty of time this week to nominate and highlight GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Said Bentley: “I will not be leaving the state while there is a danger of a hurricane approaching our coast. I am going to stay in Alabama and will continue to make sure preparations and resources are in place. We will see our state through this storm until the danger has passed.”