RNC announces first round of speakers to GOP convention

posted at 12:01 pm on August 6, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

The RNC and Republican convention organizers have announced some of the speakers for the Tampa event that starts three weeks from tomorrow — but not the most-watched slots.  The Tampa Bay Times picks up the scoop, although there aren’t any real surprises in the list:

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Sen. John McCain and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are among seven headline speakers announced today for the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

The first look at featured speakers also includes South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.

The keynote speaker and others will be named closer to the Aug. 27-30 event, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said in announcing the headliners, whom he called “some of our party’s brightest stars, who have governed and led effectively and admirably in their respective roles.”

The Times notices the names not on the list, at least for now:

Noticeably absent from the headliner list are several VP contenders: former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Let me go out on a limb and predict that all of the above will speak at the convention.  The event takes place over four full days, with about six hours of speaking/presentation time each day.  Some of that will get eaten up by convention business and floor votes, video presentations, and so on.  That still leaves about three hours or more each day for speeches.  The released list could go one day and leave some time left over, let alone the other three days of the convention.

Buzzfeed thinks the short list of announced speakers means a few people have lost the Veepstakes:

It’s possible that this is misdirection or that any one of these notables could still be selected for Veep, but this certainly makes their selection less likely.

It’s a good point — but there were only a couple of interesting names on this list.  Kasich isn’t popular enough in Ohio to help anyway, and neither Haley or Martinez have been governor for long enough to be more than a high-risk choice.  Mike Huckabee all but declared himself out of electoral politics last year.  Not much can be gleaned in Veepstakes outcomes from these names.

The inclusion of Governor Scott was pro forma for a convention in a state with a Republican governor.  It would be bad manners not to invite Scott to speak.  So far, though, Scott has kept a low profile in Florida in connection to the Romney campaign, according to the Times, because of Scott’s low approval ratings in the state.  Democrats want desperately to tie Scott to Romney, but Scott’s been a good team player and avoided handing them any opportunities.  If that’s still a worry three weeks from now, Scott will probably speak early in the convention and outside of prime time — which would be a shame, because Scott is pretty good on the stump and will fire up Republicans.

We’ll know more about the rest of the invites later this month, perhaps after Romney selects his running mate.  Romney starts a bus tour this week, and the Tampa Bay Times suggested that it might be in part a platform for rolling out the Veepstakes winner.  I don’t believe that Romney will waste the opportunity to build enthusiasm and attention by announcing early, though.  I’m sticking by my prediction of either August 17th or 20th for that announcement.

Update: A few “why isn’t _____ on the list?” comments in the thread, so let me explain.  This is just the first batch of confirmed speakers; the final list will be much longer.  Some names, like Chris Christie, Scott Walker, Ron Paul, and Sarah Palin, will generate a lot of buzz on their own, so expect the convention organizers to hold off on those names and announce them individually.  For the rest of those national figures who might play into the Veepstakes or Romney’s former primary opponents, they can’t schedule them until Romney picks his running mate.

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