Multiple media outlets are reporting that Gov. Nikki Haley will speak at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa later this month. The news was first reported by the Tampa Bay Times on Sunday evening.
Haley is joined on the speaking roster by two other leading women in the Republican Party, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Presumptive nominee Mitt Romney's main rivals from the 2008 presidential campaign, John McCain and Mike Huckabee were also given slots. The other speaker announced was Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
"They are some of our party's brightest stars, who have governed and led effectively and admirably in their respective roles," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in prepared remarks obtained by The Associated Press. "These speakers -- and those that will be announced later -- will help make it a truly memorable and momentous event."
South Carolina Republican Party Chair Chad Connelly added, "All South Carolinians should be proud of Governor Haley speaking at the Republican National Convention. In front of a worldwide audience, she will shine a positive spotlight on our state."
The names not announced are sure to fuel speculation about Romney's choice for running mate. They include:
- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
- New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte
- Florida Sen. Marco Rubio
- Ohio Sen. Rob Portman
- Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan
The prominence given to Haley, Martinez and Rice, is an indicator of the importance of attracting female voters for Romney, who polls show favoring Pres. Barack Obama by a sizable margin among women. The selection of McCain and Huckabee are believed to satisfy the foreign policy and religious wings of the GOP.
The convention begins in Tampa on Aug. 27. The Democrats have their convention the following week in Charlotte.
NOTE: Chairman Connelly's comments were added after story was initially published.