UPDATE: A meeting originally scheduled for Tuesday morning between Tampa officials and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been cancelled. McConnell had to stay in Washington, D.C., Mayor Bob Buckhorn said Monday afternoon.
TAMPA — As Congress grinds through its latest government shutdown showdown, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is coming to Tampa to meet with top city officials about money for next year's Republican National Convention.
McConnell is scheduled to meet Tuesday with Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Police Chief Jane Castor, Assistant Chief Marc Hamlin, chief of staff Santiago Corrada and Ken Jones, the president of the 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee.
The topic: the $55 million federal appropriation that Tampa has requested to pay for security during next year's Republican National Convention, scheduled for Aug. 27 to 30, 2012.
"The RNC is going to pose a huge challenge for us," Buckhorn said last week. "We're going to have to hire an additional 3,000 law enforcement officers."
Buckhorn, who recently spoke with the mayor of Minneapolis, the site with St. Paul of the 2008 GOP convention, said the law enforcement challenges will not just be inside the security perimeter set by the Secret Service.
"We're going to have to protect Ybor City," he said. "We're going to have to protect bridges" as delegates are bused in from hotels on the Pinellas beaches.
Despite the partisan wrangling in Washington, Buckhorn said he's confident the money will come through.
"I think they will do it," he said. "It's just not coming as quickly as the mayor of Charlotte" — the site of the Democratic National Convention and a city that's looking for security money of its own — "and I would like."
Richard Danielson can be reached at Danielson@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3403.