TAMPA, Fla. — Melissa Kuipers' instincts proved more powerful than Hurricane Isaac.
While uncertainty about the storm's track led organizers of the Republican National Convention to call off events and reschedule others here, the Tampa Bay cruise for Colorado's GOP delegates sponsored by Kuipers' firm, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, set off on Tuesday, just as the former Floridian predicted.
Kuipers, a Brownstein attorney and policy adviser, likened the hurricane to a blizzard, which she said leaves a beautiful scene in Colorado.
The dozens of Colorado Republicans dressed in red shirts, jeans and cowboy hats aboard The Yacht StarShip II enjoyed seafood paella and mango cocktails as the 130-foot vessel rocked gently during its two-hour voyage around the bay.
"It's really nice," said John England, a delegate and CEO of a Castle Rock, Colo.-based medical center called Plum Creek Medical. "We've had a lot of fun so far."
As they ate and drank, Representative Cory Gardner of Colorado and other Republicans rallied the troops with criticism of President Barack Obama and praise for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in front of a sign that touted Brownstein, as well as FedEx Corp., telecommunications company Level 3 Communications Inc. and engineering and construction firm CH2M Hill Inc., co-sponsors of the event.
Of the three companies, two are Brownstein lobbying clients, according to congressional records. FedEx paid the law firm $160,000 for its lobbying help during the first half of this year, and CH2M paid Brownstein $100,000.
"It was a 10 out of 10," said Kuipers of the cruise, after it was safely docked.
Minutes later, it started to pour.