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Arizona delegates to GOP convention are waiting, but not worrying about storms

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, in Tampa for the Republican National Convention, said she is confident the party can get its message out, even on a storm-shortened schedule. (Cronkite News Service photo by Joe Henke)

TAMPA, Fla. -  The threat of a hurricane may have upended the schedule for the Republican National Convention, but the coming rains did not appear to worry Arizona delegates as they arrived in Tampa this weekend.

The National Weather Service issued a tropical storm warning for the west coast of Florida, meaning tropical storm Isaac – which could be come Hurricane Isaac – could affect the Tampa area sometime Monday.

As a precaution, convention officials announced this weekend that they would cancel Monday’s planned events and revisit the issue Tuesday. But Arizona Republican Party Chairman Tom Morrissey said he does not expect the lost day to change things much.

“Yeah, we’d like to have four days so that everybody can get their speeches in and all that but the reason that we’re here is to nominate Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan,” Morrissey said.

All of Arizona’s 29 voting delegates had arrived in Tampa by Sunday, said Shane Wikfors, a spokesman for the Arizona GOP.

“They’ve been coming in over the last few days,” said Wikfors, adding that a big group came in Saturday. The state also has 28 alternates who are scheduled to attend the convention, he said.

While Arizona has 29 voting delegates at the convention, that number could have been doubled. But the party was penalized for moving its presidential primary up earlier this year.

For one of those delegates, Donna Alu of Tucson, the threat of a hurricane is, well, not much of a threat. As many are preparing in advance of Isaac’s approach to the Gulf Coast many are preparing, Alu has remained calm. She said growing up in Long Island, N.Y., she experienced weather like this a few times.

“We’re in a safe hotel. I’m not doing anything specifically to prepare for it,” Alu said.

Morrissey said the state’s delegation members expect to ride out the storm together.

“We’ve been advised to hang close to the hotel. We’re going to have a pizza party and I’m trying to organize a bingo game,” he said.

Gov. Jan Brewer, in town for the convention, insisted that the storm will not be a distraction.

“We have a great message for the public, and we can get it done in three days,” Brewer said of the nomination and presentation of the party’s message.

And if the nation’s attention follows the storm instead of the convention, Morrissey said the party will still spread its message.

“We have the greatest motivator we’ve ever had in history sitting in the White House,” he said.

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