The Republican convention to crown Mitt Romney the presidential nominee opened Monday not with a bang but with a whimper, as the symbolic session was adjourned almost immediately for a day's storm delay.

Reince Preibus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, opened the session at 2:00 pm (1800 GMT), gaveling the convention to order in front of a half-empty hall in Tampa, Florida.

Monday was supposed to be the raucous kick-off to four days of carefully choreographed political theater.

Instead, after party officials scrapped the first day of events due to the threat posed by Tropical Storm Isaac, a symbolic minutes-long session was held before proceedings were adjourned until the following day.

The original script had Romney to be formally nominated to take on President Barack Obama in the November 6 election by a delegate roll call on Monday morning, launching a succession of well-honed speeches by leading party figures.

That procedure will now take place on Tuesday.

Preibus activated two clocks designed to highlight "the fiscal recklessness" of the Obama administration.

One showed America's $15.9 trillion national debt. The other reactivated the clock from zero to show how much debt accumulates during the four days of the convention.

"The first clock will bring home the full magnitude of the problem, while this second clock will impress upon the nation just how much our government overspends in the span of only four days," Preibus said in a statement. "Both clocks highlight the magnitude of our debt problem."

Republican Party officials stressed that the prime night-time speaking slots on Tuesday and Wednesday, culminating in Romney's acceptance speech on Thursday after an introduction by rising Hispanic star Marco Rubio, remained unchanged.