GOP hopes to avoid controversy at RNC

August 24, 2012 (CHICAGO)

Crews will spend the weekend working on the final preparations on the high-tech stage at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will be formally nominated during a roll call of the delegations on Monday.

Fifty four delegates from Illinois will be attending the convention.

Tropical storm Isaac is only a weather-related issue that could get in the way of Republicans trying to make their case to the American people. The party's own politicians are also the cause of unwanted distractions.

As the Tampa Times Forum is made ready for next week, Republicans hope for a controversy-free convention where they can focus on the nation's economy.

"We should be talking about the economic growth and job creation and the debt. Not talking about social issues. This has been a distraction," said Ill. Rep. Judy Biggert (R) Hinsdale.

But only three days before Tampa, Mitt Romney himself has caused the newest possible distraction. While campaigning Friday in Michigan, where the presumptive Republican nominee and wife Ann were both born, Romney re-ignited the birther controversy.

"Ann was born at Henry Ford hospital. I was born at Harper Hospital. No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised," he said.

Obama campaign press secretary Ben Labolt wrote Friday, "Governor Romney's decision to directly enlist himself in the birther movement should give pause to any rational voter across America".

Meanwhile, Republicans are still trying to distance themselves from their Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin and his comments about rape victims and pregnancy. Ann Romney will be a major convention speaker on Monday night as the party tries to patch things up with female voters.

"What troubles me is the other side is trying to use it against all of us," said Biggert.

Weather permitting, Biggert will not travel to the Tampa convention until Wednesday. Her North Shore colleague Robert Dold will leave that same day and northwest suburban congressman Joe Walsh will not attend any days. All three Republican incumbents face tight races in their redrawn congressional districts.

"As a member of Congress, I'd go anyway," said Biggert. "But I'll spend the last two days because I've got a lot to do here too. As in campaigning."

Biggert, Dold and Walsh saw their districts re-drawn last year to include many more Democratic voters.

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