August 15, 2012 12:00:47 PM
Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin is out.
But New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is in.
Texas Rep. Ron Paul will not appear. But his son, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, will take the stage.
The full slate of convention speakers for the Republican National Convention in Tampa later this month is now set, and it reveals a careful attempt by the GOP to highlight voices that will excite party loyalists in the campaign hall while excluding those that could turn off independent voters watching on television at home.
The party's attempt to thread that needle came into focus Tuesday with the announcement that Christie - one of the few party figures who appeals across the broad partisan spectrum - will take on the coveted role of keynote speaker.
Christie's combative and blunt tone matches up well with the fighting spirit of the GOP's tea party grass roots. But his more moderate social positions and occasional willingness to use his sharp tongue on his own party have gained him fans among non-traditional Republican voters as well.
In a statement, Christie promised to use his 20-minute address to offer the kind of candid assessment of the race for which he's known.
"We have an opportunity in Tampa to make clear that if we tell each other the hard truths, tackle the big problems, and make bold choices, we will see America's comeback," he said.
The party will also work to elevate figures seen as bright young stars who could help broaden the GOP's appeal with women and Latinos over those who helped splinter the party through months of this year's tough Republican primary season.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) will introduce presidential candidate Mitt Romney. A pair of female governors -- New Mexico's Susana Martinez and South Carolina's Nikki Haley -- will also speak.