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Republican Convention First Day Ends Lightning Fast as Storm Swirls

Win McNamee/Getty Images(TAMPA, Fla.) -- What was to be an opening day of pomp and partying stretching into the night at the Republican National Convention instead lasted all of one minute, as the GOP put on hold its plans to nominate Mitt Romney while the Gulf Coast hunkers down in preparation for Tropical Storm Isaac.

At 2 p.m. ET, party chairman Reince Priebus announced the convention "in session and called to order." He declared the convention in recess moments later with the pounding of a gavel.

But Priebus still observed a moment of silence to recognize the first responders expected to deal with the effects of the storm churning its way toward New Orleans.

Many delegates were on the floor of the Tampa Bay Times Forum, but the seats of the huge arena were all but empty.

Priebus also pointed out a special clock that will monitor increases to the national debt during the meeting though Thursday.

Isaac, which is expected to reach hurricane force winds in the next 24 to 48 hours, will now mostly avoid Tampa. But its dark clouds loom over the convention, nevertheless. Priebus and others in the coming days will strike a balance between respectfully monitoring the storm, and ebulliently celebrating their new nominee.

This year's convention was to be a carefully scripted affair, tightly packing in speeches by many of the party's boldest names.

By losing a day of events because of travel delays and bigger fears that the storm would hit Tampa directly, many speakers were rescheduled or simply canceled.

Tuesday's schedule includes the roll call of state delegates' pledging their support for Romney as the nominee, as well as some of the party's fastest-rising stars, many of them long endorsers of Mitt Romney, including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte.

The headliner Tuesday is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, once considered a potential running mate for Romney. Ann Romney, who was set to speak Monday, will also speak Tuesday.

Meanwhile, on the sidelines of the convention will be a veritable sideshow of GOP presidential also-rans.

Unbowed by the weather and by his losing presidential campaign, supporters of Texas Rep. Ron Paul came out in droves to hear him speak Sunday in Tampa, after he was nixed from speaking at the convention. Other one-time candidates -- Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann -- are also expected to hold events on the convention sidelines.

Democrats also have set up outside the convention, hunkering down in a "war room" to respond in real time to comments made during the event.

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