Romney's VP List Narrows as Speaker List for Convention Grows

The Republican National Committee has released the names of several high-profile Republican speakers who will take the podium at the party's Tampa, Fla., convention later this month. Yet appearing on the speakers roster means one's name was mostly likely scratched off the Romney campaign's list of vice presidential prospects – assuming it was there in the first place.

The RNC announced that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley – all of whom have been mentioned as possible running mates – will have prime time speaking roles.

Vice presidential running mates are typically chosen a week or so prior to the convention start date, which runs Aug. 27-30. Romney is on a bus tour in Florida and the announcement could come as early as this week.

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Given that the nominee's running mate will also have a prime time speaking slot, speechwriters will need at least a week to research the nominee's prior speeches or any opinion editorials they have recently penned so they can go into high-gear to make sure their message will complement, but not overwhelm Romney's remarks.

Just as important as whose name is on the list, political analysts are paying attention to who is not yet scheduled to speak.

That list includes former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman.

But outside of the vice presidential speaking slot, the convention will also name a keynote speaker in the next few days. For example, a young state senator from Illinois named Barack Obama was given a similar slot at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Four years later, he would accept his party's nomination for president.

Political pundits are encouraging Gov. Romney to "go bold" with his VP selection. Over the weekend, conservative columnists such as Bill Kristol thought that Ryan or Rubio would feed the party loyalists and be the better options to defeat Obama in November.

"It's not the first time we've said it, but it could well be the last: Go bold, Mitt! Pick Paul Ryan, the Republican Party's intellectual leader, the man who's laid out the core of the post-Obama policy agenda and gotten his colleagues in Congress to sign on to it," Kristol and Stephen Hayes wrote in the Weekly Standard.

"Or pick Marco Rubio, the GOP's most gifted young politician, the man who embodies what is best about the Tea Party and a vision of a broad-based Republican governing majority of the future. Barack Obama was right about this (if only this): Modern Democratic politics is about hope and change. Ryan and Rubio, more than anyone else, embody Republican hopes and conservative change."

Many social conservatives have been touting Huckabee, especially since his "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" was such an overwhelming success last week. But one name that fell flat with those same voters was Condi Rice, who because of her pro-choice views was considered a high-risk pick for Romney.

Absent on any list so far is Ron Paul, one of Romney's opponents during the GOP primary.

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