GOP chair: I hope Palin speaks at the convention

“I can’t make that announcement tonight,” RNC chair Reince Priebus told Greta van Susteren last night on Fox when asked about Sarah Palin’s chances of landing a speaking slot at the Republican national convention in Tampa. “I think a lot of her,” Priebus replied, “and hope that she does speak.”  Politico picked up on the exchange:

If Palin does speak, she would join other prominent GOP women whose national profiles have risen since Palin was pushed onto the national spotlight after McCain chose her as his running mate. In addition to Rice, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez also will be speaking.

Palin told a reporter July 25 from The Tampa Bay Times that she’d “have an announcement in a couple of days” regarding the convention, though no announcement came.

The convention organizers are using a roll-out strategy to maximize media attention on selected groupings of speakers.  Yesterday they rolled out a list of seven Republicans with confirmed speaking slots, none of them a surprise or much of a game-changer.  Today, the group released three higher-profile names that balance interests from different wings of the party:

Former Sen. Rick Santorum gave Mitt Romney a run for his money during the Republican primaries. In return, Santorum will get a major speaking role at the Republican National Convention, organizers will announce today.

Convention organizers will also announce they are giving major speaking roles to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and Sen. Rand Paul, the son of Rep. Ron Paul, another of Romney’s more dogged rivals.

Handing Santorum a prime speaking slot is a hat tip to his underdog presidential campaign. The under-funded, little-known former senator notched a surprising upset in Iowa, where his brand of social conservatism played well among activists. Santorum has been aggressive about wanting a speaking slot. “I have no doubt that we’ll have some role at the convention,” Santorum told CNN last week in an unusually forward statement.

National Journal believes that Rand Paul’s invitation to a prime-time speaking slot will satisfy Ron Paul delegates at the convention:

Picking Paul looks like a particularly elegant solution to what might have been a thorny problem. Ron Paul’s campaign didn’t gain traction with voters, but his supporters understood party rules better than other campaigns, giving them the opportunity to win delegate seats at county and state party conventions. Had Paul won a majority of just one more delegation, he would have been allowed to be formally nominated for president, which could have been a hurdle for organizers trying to arrange an event that will serve as a Romney coronation.

I’m not so sure that will satisfy those delegates.  I’d bet that Ron Paul himself will get a prime-time slot, as well as Newt Gingrich, both of whom made it through most of the primary process challenging Romney for the nomination.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Perry, either.

Today’s announcement was most interesting for the grouping.  Setting aside the relatively unknown Mary Fallin, we have one speaker for the conservo-libertarians, one for social conservatives, and one for center-right pragmatists.  That’s a pretty good trick, one that underscores the strong desire for unity at the Republican convention.

Regarding Palin, I’d guess that her invitation will be promoted on its own.  If Priebus wants her to attend, the organizers will clearly extend the offer.  In case anyone questions Preibus’ desire, Breitbart’s Larry O’Connor asked Priebus to weigh in on the Palin-Cheney debate, and he falls squarely in Palin’s camp: