By Richard Wolf and John Bacon
TAMPA -- The 2012 Republican National Convention was called to order with the bang of a gavel Monday, then quickly recessed, delayed a day by the storm that never came.
"It is my privilege to proclaim the 2012 Republican National Convention in session and called to order," GOP Chairman Reince Priebus said to a smattering of delegates in the cavernous Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Seconds later, Priebus closed the session. He stayed on the podium for a few more minutes, turning on the new "national debt clock" and telling delegates that it will serve a reminder of the need to elect Romney as well as the "unprecedented fiscal recklessness of the Obama administration."
He also asked for a moment of silence to honor the emergency responders and other people who will be charged with protecting people in Isaac's path. A brief Romney video was played.
Organizers called off Monday's events two days ago, when Tampa was considered a possible landfall spot for Tropical Storm Isaac. The storm stayed well west of the city, bound apparently for Louisiana or Mississippi, and sunshine was drenching Tampa by Monday afternoon.
The four-day convention will be held in three, with Mitt Romney providing the climax with his acceptance speech Thursday.
Tom Del Beccaro, a California delegate and chair of the state GOP, predicted the one-day delay in full convention events would supercharge the rest of the week's meeting.
"I think there's going to be a lot of bottled up energy, and I think that's going to show," he said.
But Sally Bradshaw, a Florida Republican and longtime senior aide to former Florida governor Jeb Bush, was not so sanguine. "It's a mess all around and it's fraught with risk," she said. "It's not good for anybody -- particularly the people impacted by the storm."
The storm threat also took its toll on a protest Monday held just blocks from the convention. What was planned as a 5,000-strong march on the convention attracted only a few hundred people from as many as 70 protest groups.
And they were marching to an abandoned convention site -- Monday's main events were canceled due to storm concerns.
"If the hurricane weren't an issue, I believe there would have been more than (5,000)," said Robbey Hayes, 21, a member of Students for a Democratic Society and a student at the University of Florida.
The protest had five goals -- good jobs, health care, affordable education, peace and equality.
Protest organizer Jared Hamil urged those in the sparse crowd to "take the streets" before they began marching to the convention site earlier Monday in wind and drizzle.
"Rain and wind -- people still came to show that we can demand a better future," Hamil said. "No more to their agenda of poverty, war and hate."
As they marched, the protesters chanted: "Hey hey, ho ho, the GOP has got to go."