Originally published August 27, 2012 at 11 a.m., updated August 27, 2012 at 3:28 p.m.
Carl Luna, political science professor, Mesa College
Twelve San Diego Republicans are in stormy Tampa, Fla. today for the official start of the Republican National Convention.
Tropical Storm Issac has already cut the convention down from four to three days. But organizers remain hopeful that the main events, including keynote speeches and Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney's acceptance speeches, take place as scheduled.
Republican delegates will vote on their party platform, including controversial issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders released a TV commercial airing during the convention this week that supports same-sex marriage and urges other Republicans to do the same.
Carl Luna, a political science professor at Mesa College, told KPBS that controversial issues like these could distract from what Republicans hope will be their main message: the suffering economy.
"I joked with my students that all last year through the primaries, Republicans only need to say, 'are you better off today than you were four years ago,'" he said. "Stay off the social issues. As soon as you go there, you lose moderates and independents."
"But to maintain the base, you ended up moving with that, particularly with the vice presidential pick," he added. "How that's going to play with the undecided and independents is going to be the story of this election."
Luna said the main economic focus at the convention will be the country's debt, but polls show 70 percent of people are most worried about jobs. Just 7 percent care most about the country's debt, and just 1 or 2 percent care most about social issues, Luna said.
But, he said, the people who go to the convention are the base of the party who want to talk about their issues.
While the party platform holds a hard line on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage, Luna said Republican candidates do not need to run on that platform. He said they can pick and choose their issues on which to run.
So although the platform opposes the DREAM Act or other amnesty programs for undocumented immigrants, Luna said San Diego candidates do not have to adopt that stance.
Claire Trageser contributed to this report.