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US Republicans kick off 2012 National Convention


TAMPA, (Xinhua): The U.S. Republican Party on Monday kicked off its 2012 National Convention in Tampa, Florida, which is set to nominate Mitt Romney as the party's candidate to challenge President Barack Obama in the November presidential election.

Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman, called the conference to order, and unveiled two debt clocks inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum, where the convention is being held.

One of the clocks shows the current U.S. federal debt, which is approaching 16 trillion dollars, while the other was designed to showcase the increase of the country's indebtedness during the three-day convention.

Meanwhile, a video featuring Romney was shown on the giant screens in the meeting venue, setting tone for the convention.

The convention went immediately to recess after the opening ceremony, and will reconvene on Tuesday. The arrangement is the result of Tropical Storm Isaac, which brought rain and strong winds to southern Florida.

The convention will feature speakers including Ann Romney and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Tuesday, while Paul Ryan, Romney's running mate, will speak on Wednesday. Romney is slated to address the convention on Thursday.

At a pre-convention briefing, Republican strategist Karl Rove said on Monday morning that the party gathering is an opportunity for ordinary Americans to get to know Romney, and a successful convention could help Romney win the election.

"The final tranches of voters who will decide this election don 't really know many things about President Obama and Mitt Romney," said Rove, noting that many people get more engaged in the political process after the party conventions in August and September.

But Tropical Storm Isaac could pose a threat to Romney's plans. It has already shrunk the span of the convention from four days to three, and if it devastates the Gulf of Mexico region, the convention will sure get less media exposure.

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