Posted at: 08/24/2012 11:35 PM
By: Dan Levy
ALBANY - As Tropical Storm Isaac plows through the Caribbean, delegates headed to the Republican National Convention are continuing with their travel plans to Tampa, Florida, but with a cautious eye on the radar screen.
It's not just a tropical storm that's on the minds of local GOP delegates, they're also mindful -- and weary -- of a political firestorm that's blowing toward the west Florida coast line.
From inside his Albany home on Friday night, Don Clarey was keeping a close eye on the Weather Channel, tracking Hurricane Isaac, hopeful that he and Isaac won't cross paths as he heads to Tampa this weekend.
"The latest weather reports show that it seems to be bearing off to the west," Clarey, the Albany County Republican Chairman, says. "We're going to have rain and wind but I don't think we're going to have a direct hit."
Clarey says there's no place he'd rather be than attending the Republican National Convention. A former White House special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, politics has been in Clarey's blood ever since his first convention in Kansas City in 1976 -- when Gerald Ford was nominated as the party's flag bearer.
"It's the essence of democracy," Clarey says of the convention. "It's the essence of our freedom and from my point of view, it's one of the most important things that anybody can do and that's to participate in the election."
Chris Callaghan, of Waterford, will be attending his second GOP convention. At this point, he's more concerned about a political storm that lies ahead.
"The tropical storm, Hurricane Isaac, will pass us by and Hurricane Akin is going to have to limp off into the sunset," Callaghan, a former candidate for NYS comptroller, said.
Like many republicans, Callaghan worries that controversial Missouri senate candidate Todd Akin will draw media attention away from presumptive nominee Mitt Romney.
"It's a very worrisome thing," Callaghan states. "I don't think it will have an affect on the presidential race."
Don Clarey also believes Akin needs to drop out of the race.
"I'm absolutely not comfortable with it," he says. "I think he should have stepped down earlier this week. The good news is this is a one week story and people will not even remember this guy's name come November."
Both Clarey and Callaghan say they like the position that Mitt Romney is in right now, trailing the incumbent President Obama by a narrow margin, and confident that Romney will get a significant bump from the convention.
Don Clarey's son is a WNYT employee.