The Republican Party has started releasing names of speakers for the 2012 GOP convention being held in Tampa at the end of August. The names are slowly being rolled out, and Condoleezza Rice, 2008 GOP presidential nominee John McCain, Mike Huckabee, New Mexico Governor Susanna Martinez, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, and Ohio Governor John Kasich were announced as speakers early Monday morning. This was followed up later in the day as Senator Rand Paul, former Governor Jeb Bush, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, and former 2012 primary opponent Rick Santorum were added to the list.
The roll-out offers an interesting mix of tea party conservatives voted into office in 2010 as well as a number of establishment Republicans. Senator Rand Paul and Jeb Bush best highlight the the two sides of the Republican Party that will be represented this year. the GOP is also showing off a strong slate of female Republican governors, including the nation's first female Hispanic Governor. The speaker list will probably continue to grow over the coming days, and as names appear it is likely they have been removed from VP consideration. Bill Kristol predicts this will quickly evolve into Romney naming a running-mate on Thursday of this week.
It is unlikely that the names released so far will be the eventual VP pick, meaning it is highly unlikely that Romney's running-mate will be a woman. Martinez and Rice were the most likely choices in such a scenario. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin Rep Paul Ryan, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida are all sure bets to speak at the convention, yet have not yet been announced as speakers. Along with them, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty are still being floated as contenders, but most pundits, voters, and conservatives have been relatively ho-hum about either candidate. Right now, it looks as though Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan have emerged as the top "not old/boring/safe/white guy" picks.
Other high-profile names have neither been announced as speakers, nor are they likely vice-presidential picks. Sarah Palin and Allen West should be no-brainers to speak at the convention, and perhaps they will be among the last group announced before a VP announcement is made. Plenty of speakers will be announced, at it will undoubtedly include the most diverse crowd of speakers that a GOP convention has seen. (And to that, we can think the tea party activists who have dropped-kicked the establishment elites and backed principled conservative candidates.) And for Mitt Romney, he has kept his cards very close to the vest. He obviously gets an A+ for keeping the suspense on the eventual nominee going, as everyone waits to see if Romney will play it safe or not.
Check out the GOP Convention Website for Updates on this year's speaker