TAMPA, Fla. — Oklahoma Republicans began arriving Saturday for their party's national convention just ahead of a storm that already has forced the cancellation of the opening day's events Monday.
“We'll just have to have a hurricane party,” Wanda Martin, a Republican delegate from Midwest City, said Saturday evening.
Pam Pollard, vice chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, said about half of the Oklahoma contingent made it here Saturday and the rest of the delegates and their families were expected to arrive without problems by Sunday afternoon.
Delegates will get to know their hotel quite well. Pollard said party officials have directed that everyone stay in their hotels Monday, when Tropical Storm Isaac could hit the area early in the morning. Delegates would be evacuated if the threat to the hotel is severe, she said.
Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett had been scheduled to speak Monday afternoon at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, where the convention is expected to proceed on Tuesday and culminate Thursday with a nomination acceptance speech from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Cornett said Saturday evening that he had not been notified about whether his remarks would be rescheduled. The mayor was planning to arrive Sunday. Cornett also had been scheduled to speak on the first day of the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis 2008, but that day's events — and Cornett's speech — were scratched out of deference to those affected by Hurricane Gustav.
Gov. Mary Fallin and members of the congressional delegation also were planning to arrive Sunday.
Fallin is scheduled to speak in a prime-time slot Tuesday night, though Republican Party officials have not announced whether that day's events will be rearranged.
The governor also is planning to announce the state's delegate votes at a convention that will focus in part on giving Americans a fleshed-out biography of Romney.
“I am amazed at how many people say they don't know anything about him,” U.S. Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, said, adding that the convention would “offer some perspective on him as an individual.”
“It's tougher to demonize someone you know and like.”
Matt Pinnell, chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, said at least 200 Oklahomans will make up the state's contingent of delegates, elected officials and family members.
There are 43 delegates and 40 alternates.
Not all of the state's delegates will be casting their votes for Romney; as many as seven of the 43 are expected to vote for U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, of Texas, whose supporters sought to claim many other delegate slots at a chaotic and controversial state GOP convention in Oklahoma City in May.
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