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Friday, August 24, 2012

Conservative Forecasts, Meteorological and Political


TAMPA, Fla. - Along with fretting about the political fortunes of Representative Todd Akin, the Republican Senate candidate from Missouri whose comments about rape set off their own storm, the weather was a dominant topic of conversation at a pre-convention gathering of conservatives on Thursday evening.

The Council for National Policy, a secretive group of conservative activists and donors, is holding its conference over several days this week near the site of the Republican National Convention, which begins, storm permitting, on Monday. Members heard from Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota on Thursday, and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky was scheduled to speak on Friday.

But the names on the minds of many attendees were Akin and Isaac, the name of the storm swirling toward the Gulf of Mexico, as they speculated about what each would do over the next several days.

“The C.N.P. group is mostly enthusiastic about him continuing to run,” a man who often attends council meetings said of Mr. Akin. The man agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity because the council orders its members not to speak with the media.

But Mr. Akin does not have unequivocal backing from the group's leadership, the man added. “I was told by a member of the executive board that they were not enthusiastic and hoped he would drop out,” he said, because they are concerned about the implications on the national election.

The storm provided an easy entree to small talk around the Tampa Bay Grand Hyatt after the C.N.P.'s reception late Thursday evening, which also included consultants pitching advocac y leaders by the elevator, informal strategy powwows at the bar, a rushed phone call to confirm the next day's press conference.

But as one attendee noted, Florida is not exactly pleasant in late August under the best conditions.

“If it's bad, I'm staying inside,” one woman could be overheard telling another as they walked to the elevators late Thursday evening. “And if it's good, I'm still staying inside.”