Picking the speakers for the GOP convention in Tampa

Published May 18, 2012

TAMPA — This is unwelcome news for Mitt Romney: Florida Gov. Rick Scott expects a high-profile speaking slot at the Republican National Convention.

"I would hope so," he told a newspaper editorial board this week when asked if he anticipates giving a prime-time speech in Tampa.

Nothing says "Elect Mitt Romney!" like an unpopular multimillionaire awkwardly making the case on national TV.

We're 100 days out, and convention organizers are just starting to tackle one of the trickiest and most important elements of the convention — selecting the speakers.

It's a matter of juggling monumental political egos, precious little time for maximum TV exposure, appeasing people whose help is needed, and ensuring the best message comes through to win over swing voters just starting to focus on the presidential contest.

"How much lobbying is there? More lobbying than on an oil pipeline,'' said Democratic strategist Bob Shrum, who played a key role in putting together John Kerry's 2004 convention in Boston.

Republican strategist Russ Schriefer, program chair for George W. Bush's 2004 convention in New York and now a senior Romney adviser, recounted more subtle lobbying efforts.

"People would give you suggestions — 'It would be a really good idea for X to speak,' " he recalled with a chuckle. "Without naming names, there were a few challenges, and there are always a few egos that need to be soothed."

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