DAVID BERGELAND/Durango Herald
Two storms were brewing Monday morning when Colorado delegates to the Republican National Convention met for breakfast.
Tropical Storm Isaac was lurking offshore and aiming for the Gulf Coast, but Tampa got nothing worse than rain showers and a breeze.
Inside, though, delegates were fuming about proposed changes to the Republican Party's rules in a way that could make it harder for insurgent candidates such as Ron Paul to gain a foothold in future conventions.
“It totally usurps the power of our state party and our convention process to select those delegates,” said Dudley Brown, who said he plans to try to block the rules from taking effect Tuesday.
A lawyer for Mitt Romney's campaign proposed the changes. The new rule would give presidential candidates power to approve who is selected as their delegates.
Paul supporters oppose the change, and so do others in the delegation. State Sen. Ted Harvey, a Romney supporter, said it would make Colorado's caucus election and state party “meaningless.”
“That is not what the Republican Party is about. The Republican Party is about the grass-roots electing delegates through the caucus process,” Harvey said.
State Republican Party Chairman Ryan Call said he had concerns about the changes, but he encouraged Colorado's delegates to keep an open mind and study the changes for themselves.
“There's going to be a lot of heated rhetoric thrown around,” Call said.
Negotiations were still occurring Monday, but the fight might play out on the convention floor this afternoon.
Romney appeared to have consolidated his hold over the Colorado delegation since April, when a coalition of Paul and Rick Santorum supporters denied Romney a majority of the delegates. When Call polled the delegation Monday, most of the Santorum supporters switched over to Romney, leaving just eight of the 36 Colorado delegates who refused to support him.
Call will cast Colorado's votes for Romney Tuesday on the convention floor, but Paul supporters won a concession from the Romney team when Luke Kirk of Bayfield – a Paul backer – was chosen to help Call cast the votes.
The roll call was supposed to happen Monday, but Republican leaders canceled most of Monday's proceedings because of the tropical storm.
It steered past Tampa, but convention planners weren't the only ones who were fooled. Local schools were closed Monday as well.
Both the rules fight and the tropical storm threatened to distract from the Republican Party's aim for the week: to re-introduce Romney to the nation, with an emphasis on his personal qualities.
Colorado delegates got a preview of that Monday morning, when Matt Romney, the candidate's second-oldest son, spoke briefly to them and told a family story.
“My dad, as you know, kind of has a reputation for fixing things,” Matt Romney said.
When Matt's wife was on bed rest while expecting twins, Mitt Romney visited and saw that Matt hadn't left her anything besides a bit of food. So the former Massachusetts governor put together a TV cabinet and hired a college student to run errands for her.
“This all happened within about an hour,” Matt Romney said.
Matt Romney's brief speech was aimed at humanizing his dad after months of negative ads.
“He's a good husband to my mom. He's a terrific grandfather to my kids,” he said.