TAMPA — The sun was finally shining on this crowded city Tuesday — giving 4,000 delegates some hope over their scrambled eggs that the Republican convention would finally get off the ground.
But despite a new sense of excitement that the show was getting on the road, many officials still fretted over the political implications and optics of Hurricane Isaac landing in New Orleans in the middle of the convention.
"I think you have to be aware simultaneously that some people are really going to be going through some tough situations," said U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania. "But I think the recognition is that this is serious business, too. So long as it's kept in the appropriate tone that what we're dealing with are real challenges for America."
Former Gov. William Weld was the star of the Massachusetts delegation breakfast, despite his endorsement of Barack Obama in 2008. "People don't know (Romney) well enough yet," said Weld, who is considered far to the left of Romney on social issues. "The plan (for the convention) is for a lot of people who know him personally to describe him from different angles. Maybe if each one throws a little bit of paint against the wall — in the end, some sort of picture of Mitt Romney emerges."
Romney, Weld says, is actually "a very modest guy."
Weld added that Ann Romney had her work cut out for her Tuesday night, in her prime-time speech. "She can more than handle it," he said. "There's a lot of sand to that lady."
Sand? Did he say sand?
"That's actually from Huck Finn, my favorite novel," Weld explained. "Huck falls in love with Mary Jane, but he won't admit it to himself. And he says she 'had more sand in her than any girl I've ever seen.' "
Pa. and N.H.
At the Doubletree, delegates from Pennsylvania and New Hampshire met for breakfast. The crowd was energized, clapping, whistling and cheering throughout remarks given by a lineup that included House Speaker John Boehner and Mitt Romney's son, Josh.
"This is a lot of fun for me, to be on the campaign trail, to be talking about my mom and dad, to give a different perspective of them," Josh Romney said.
Romney took a swipe at Obama, saying he runs into people on the trail that regret voting for Obama in 2008. "That energy is gone, he's lost that energy," he said. "A lot of people look at what he's done and are disheartened at what he hasn't accomplished."
California is a state where House Republicans see a chance for major gains in November. And Boehner — one of the GOP's heaviest hitters — told them in St. Pete Beach that they hold the key to strengthening his majority.
"There's one issue in this campaign, one," Boehner said. "The president can't run on his record, because his economic record has failed and so he's trying to make this election about everything other than the economy and jobs."
Rep. Darrell Issa — one of the most prominent California Republicans — told the group that the "second string" of national news reporters was covering the GOP convention in Tampa. "The first string is seeing if there's another Katrina," Issa said.
"We were very blessed that the hurricane missed us. All we saw was rain," Issa said.
"And let's all pray that Louisiana, Mississippi have the same blessings we've enjoyed and that this (storm) fades away without damaging our neighbors to the north."