Several of the conservatives who battled Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination won’t be speaking on the floor of the Republican convention later this month.
That list includes former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, businessman Herman Cain, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, writes Jeremy Peters in The New York Times.
Romney’s chief primary competitor, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, will speak.
Two Republican stars that decided against running for president – former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and real estate titan Donald Trump – haven’t been named yet but could still be added to the speaker roster. Leaving those two off the list would deprive some in the party’s conservative base of two of their favorite figures.
As for Gingrich, he wanted to give a speech at the Aug. 27-30 confab in Tampa, according to The Times. But the Romney camp instead designated him to teach a series of workshops dubbed “Newt University.”
Bachmann and Cain will stage their own event — a party “unity rally,” they call it — at a mega-church about 20 minutes from the convention site.
Perry has accepted his lack of a speaking role graciously. “That’s not my call to make,” he told The Times. “The convention is for Mitt Romney, not for me. Not for Newt, not for Marco Rubio, not for Chris Christie. It’s for Mitt.”
The Romney camp’s omissions, especially if Trump and Palin are among them, risk alienating some voters. That could be particularly costly if it’s independent voters, who are likely to decide the election’s outcome.
In an interview with The Times, the colorful Trump explained his popularity with voters this way: “They like what I say. I’m a very popular guy, as crazy as it might sound. It’s nice to be loved.”
While the Romney camp might be worried that some of Trump’s comments would be too controversial for its liking, the campaign will have a lot more control over what the Donald says if he does speak at the convention. That’s because Romney aides would have to approve the text of his speech. On his own, Trump would be free to say whatever he wants.
In any case, the passed-over speakers will be heard, Cain said. Many tea partyers feel left out by Romney, he maintains. “What we represent and who we represent deserves a level of respect.”
The party would benefit from giving him a voice on the floor, Cain said.
“Based upon having done hundreds of speeches and based upon the reaction from those various audiences, me speaking at the convention could offer No. 1, some enthusiasm, and No. 2, some inspiration to get past any differences that still exist amongst various groups. Let’s be honest, it’s there. We’re not a homogeneous party yet.”
Gingrich echoed that sentiment. “The tension between the emerging party wings and the traditional party is going to be permanent and will mark the next eight years if Romney is president or if he’s not,” he said. “It’s just a fact.”
But the happy warrior isn’t upset. “The truth is the hardest-core conservatives didn’t win the nomination. So to turn to Romney and say, ‘You now have to dance to our tune’ doesn’t make much sense to me.”
GOP convention planners note that the broadcast networks -- ABC, CBS and NBC – have scheduled only an hour of prime-time coverage each night of the gathering. So they’re more concerned about hewing to a tight schedule than satisfying the desires of those who won’t speak.
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