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Consultant Offers GOP Convention Alternative

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J.J. Dutton from Smith Fence Co. works on putting up a security fence around the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Thursday in Tampa, Fla. The city waits for Hurricane Isaac as it also prepares for the Republican National Convention, which will run Aug. 27 to 30.

Add Category 1 hurricane to the list of about 50,000 guests scheduled to attend the Republican National Convention next week in Tampa, Fla., and there could be more than just a natural disaster on the GOP's hands.

As the media and political sphere gather for a collective freak-out about being stranded in muggy Florida, a crisis communications expert said there's a way for the Grand Old Party to turn the situation into a positive for its presidential candidate.

Rich Masters, a partner at Qorvis Communications, which specializes in crisis communication, said that if presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney gets news that Hurricane Isaac will slam Tampa and makes the call to cancel the convention and hold an innovative alternative, he can show the American people just how presidential he can be.

"Everyone wants to run from crisis," Masters said. "But it's better to wrap yourself around it and figure out how to derive your message through crisis."

Masters' idea?

Gather the party's delegates in their respective states to cast their nomination ballots, and have Romney, vice presidential candidate Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan and other big-name speakers deliver their remarks at large venues in swing states such as Ohio or Colorado.

This, Masters said, prevents the possibility that the emergency personnel needed to respond to the hurricane are depleted in favor of protecting the high-profile convention attendees, inevitably causing bad feelings from Florida residents and subsequent bad press for the party.

"If you do it this way, you get goodwill and everyone in America is going to applaud [Romney] for not going to Tampa and taxing resources," Masters said.

"It won't replace a convention, but in some ways it could be even cooler," Masters added.

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