After a one-day delay to let now-Hurricane Isaac pass by, the 2012 Republican National Convention is now really under way.
We're in the Tampa Times Forum and will be following the action from the opening gavel at 2 p.m. ET to the close of business this evening around 11 p.m. ET. Hit your "refresh" button once in a while to make sure you're seeing our latest updates.
Meanwhile, Frank James will be hosting a live-chat later this evening. And, of course, there will be live coverage on many NPR stations and streaming on NPR.org.
Please join us.
Update at 3:40 p.m. ET. The Congressional Parade:
The early hours of conventions — well before TV's prime time — are when junior members of Congress and new candidates get their chances to be on the podium for 60 or 90 seconds. This can also be a time when parties try to show some diversity and appeal to minorities.
Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin said the GOP will spread prosperity from "the breweries of Wisconsin to the barrios of California." And Tim Scott, an African-American candidate for Congress from South Carolina, ended his turn at the microphone with a few runs through the chorus of Hit The Road Jack — the person he want to see hit the road, of course, is President Obama.
The early hours also give a party the chance to begin hammering home its message. So far, there have been many comments from the stage that "we can do better" and a big sign at one end of the floor says "we built it."
Update at 3:25 p.m. ET. Oops. Someone Forgot To Send The Buses For The Florida Delegation:
According to the Tampa Bay Times, the Florida delegation — which is staying 30 miles away as something of a punishment for holding the state's primary earlier than rules allowed — suffered another indignity today. The buses that were to show up to bring the delegates to the convention didn't arrive.
"The RNC forgot to send them, delegates were told," according to the Times. It took a while to round up replacements, and the delegates arrived in town with just minutes to spare.
Update at 3 p.m. ET. Compromise In The Works?
NPR.org's Liz Halloran reports from the convention floor that she's been told by Oklahoma Republican Vice Chair Pam Pollard says the Rules Committee has agreed on a plan that it believes will satisfy those (many of them supporters of Ron Paul) who were upset by plans to give presidential nominees more control over which delegates get seated.
Pollard told Liz that the original plan was akin to "swatting a gnat with a sledge hammer."
There may still be some shows of unrest, though. Liz reports that the Maine delegation may seek to have 10 or so Paul delegates recognized who the party doesn't want to seat.
Update at 2:26 p.m. ET. First Mention Of The Debt Clocks:
We noted Monday that the GOP has installed two "debt clocks" above the convention floor. One tracks the nation's total public debt. The other tracks how much has been added since the convention official opened at 2 p.m. ET on Monday.
At 2:26 p.m. ET, Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus made the first mention of the debt clocks and the blame Republicans attach to President Obama for the massive amount of debt. Expect many more mentions over the next three days.
Update at 2:20 p.m. ET. Voices Of Dissent:
NPR's Ted Robbins, who is in the arena, tells us he spoke with three members of the Minnesota delegation who say — Ted paraphrases — that unity (behind the idea of defeating President Obama) isn't as important as liberty. They plan to be among the Paul supporters who try to raise objections to new rules that would allow future nominees to have more control over who does and doesn't get seated as a delegate.
Update at 2:05 p.m. ET: And We're Off!
The gavel has been dropped, the colors have been presented, the National Anthem has been sung and the invocation is being delivered. The GOP convention has started right on time.
But one of the first things to happen may be a bit of a floor fight, as we previewed this morning. Ron Paul's supporters aren't happy with changes to the party's policies and procedures on the seating of delegates.
Update at 1:35 p.m. ET. Before The Show, Another Ron Paul Moment:
As we've posted about a few times this week, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and his supporters took full advantage of the convention's delay to make some noise of their own around Tampa on Sunday and Monday.
They just did it again. The man himself made an appearance on the convention floor — to the loud delight of his fans. A chant of "Ron Paul!" went up. A minute later, the soon-to-be presidential nominee's supporters responded with "Romney!" They couldn't outshout the Paulites, though (to be fair, delegates are still drifting in; so the majority of delegates — Mitt Romney supporters — weren't here to add their voices).