WASHINGTON – A trio of female firsts and three former GOP presidential contenders are among the first speakers disclosed for August’s Republican National Convention.
The GOP convention schedule is packed with high-profile names to fire up divergent wings of the Republican Party, from social conservatives to fiscal hawks. They will speak ahead of Mitt Romney’s formal acceptance of his party’s presidential nomination.
Convention leaders were not ready to announce the keynote speaker, a prime speaking slot that has the potential to catapult a rising member of the party to national prominence.
The schedule’s outlines were first reported by the Tampa Bay Times late Sunday and were confirmed to the Associated Press by Republican officials with direct knowledge of the plan. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because convention officials had not yet announced the schedule.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, the first female governors of their states, are among party leaders slated to address the gathering that begins Aug. 27. Martinez has the additional distinction of being the first female Hispanic governor in the country.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the first black female to hold that job, is also scheduled to speak.
Sen. John McCain of Arizona was set to speak, as well as a one-time rival, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. The two, along with Romney, vied for the 2008 presidential nomination, with McCain outlasting both Romney and the former Baptist pastor in the primary campaign.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who briefly ran for the GOP nomination in 2000, also was set to speak at the convention, as was Florida Gov. Rick Scott, whose state is host to the event. Both are tea party favorites and are set to speak to fiscal issues many Republicans hold dear.
“They are some of our party’s brightest stars, who have governed and led effectively and admirably in their respective roles,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in prepared remarks. When someone is announced as keynote speaker, it could indicate that Romney has decided against that person as a running mate.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin are both big names in the party believed to be among those Romney is weighing for the vice presidential slot or for the keynote address. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio also were noticeably absent from the slate of announced speakers and may be contenders for running mate.
If passed over for the vice presidential pick, there is a good chance they would earn speaking slots – if not the keynote.
Democrats have rolled out their own convention schedule in recent weeks. Marking a first for Hispanics, the Democrats chose the mayor of San Antonio, Julian Castro, to deliver the keynote address in Charlotte, N.C., on the convention’s opening night, Sept. 4.