Instead of opening with a bang as originally planned, Mitt Romney's Republican convention started with a whimper on Monday as party leaders staged a low-key session while Tropical Storm Isaac churned through the Gulf of Mexico.
The tone was deliberately subdued after Isaac led Republicans to scrap most of their first day's schedule in Tampa, complicating plans to showcase Romney to voters as the presidential candidate heads into a 10-week sprint to his Nov. 6 election battle against Democratic President Barack Obama.
Sunshine broke through the clouds in Tampa as the host city, on Florida's Gulf Coast, avoided the brunt of Isaac. But a destructive landfall farther north later in the week - possibly at hurricane strength and hitting the Louisiana coast - threatened to create a split screen of TV coverage between the storm and the convention.
With many of the 50.000 delegates still struggling to get to Tampa on storm-delayed flights, organizers mounted a scaled-back agenda on Monday and reshuffled their line-up of speakers into a three-day plan, capped by Romney's speech Thursday night.
Republicans gathering for the typically festive and partisan event were under pressure to avoid the appearance of unseemly celebration while the Gulf Coast was under threat.
Isaac swirled across the Gulf of Mexico, disrupting offshore energy production and threatening to hit Louisiana on Tuesday night or Wednesday, the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman, gavelled the convention into session - at least technically - inside a nearly empty sports arena and almost immediately recessed the gathering until Tuesday, when the featured speakers will include Romney's wife, Ann, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Partisan politics were kept to a minimum during the 10-minute session. But Priebus took the opportunity to unveil a debt clock, to tally the nation's red ink during the Republican gathering that he said was meant to highlight the unprecedented fiscal recklessness of the Obama administration.