Florida governor cancels opening speech at Republican convention

MIAMI Sun Aug 26, 2012 10:44am EDT

Florida Governor Rick Scott speaks during an interview in New York, March 26, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Florida Governor Rick Scott speaks during an interview in New York, March 26, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

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MIAMI (Reuters) - Florida Governor Rick Scott on Saturday canceled his plans to participate in the opening day of the Republican National Convention to focus on the state's preparations for approaching Tropical Storm Isaac.

Scott was expected to give a speech at the convention on Monday night, kicking off the four-day meeting, which will see former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney receive the party's presidential nomination.

"I'm going to withdraw from all my RNC activities on Monday," Scott said. "I've got to get ready for taking care of the whole state."

U.S. Republicans announced the convention will officially open on Monday as scheduled but postponed all official business until Tuesday to ensure the safety of delegates and others planning to attend.

Earlier Saturday, Scott declared a state of emergency as Isaac moved across eastern Cuba.

The storm is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane before hitting the Florida Keys on Sunday and crossing into the Gulf of Mexico, likely lashing Tampa with rains and strong winds.

Forecasters expect Isaac to eventually make landfall somewhere between the Florida Panhandle and New Orleans by the middle of next week.

Scott, a Republican, said he alerted Romney about his decision in a phone call.

The call also focused on "wind, storm surge, how much rain we're going to have, things like that," he said.

(Reporting by David Adams; writing by Kevin Gray; editing by Todd Easthm)

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