The Republican National Committee is making big changes to the lineup of speakers at the convention next week in Tampa to ensure that broadcast networks cover Ann Romney’s speech. Among the changes most seriously under consideration: moving Marco Rubio to Tuesday night and having Mrs. Romney speak Thursday night in the spot originally reserved for Rubio.
Mrs. Romney’s speech was initially scheduled for Monday night, but the big three television networks won’t be covering the convention that night, so the Romney campaign and Republican officials have scrambled over the last several days to ensure her speech gets the widest coverage possible. Ann Romney is regarded as a tremendous asset to her husband’s campaign and in a convention designed in part to make him more likable, she will play an important role. So her speech has been tentatively scheduled for Thursday night, shortly before her husband’s.
But the shuffling could mean that the speaker widely considered the best communicator in the Republican party will address the convention at a time when the networks are unlikely to take his entire address live. In the scenario that Republican officials tell THE WEEKLY STANDARD is increasingly likely, Marco Rubio’s address would be shifted from Thursday night to Tuesday – the second night of the convention, but the first night the networks will be covering it live in primetime. The speech would begin at 10 p.m. on Tuesday night, just as the networks begin their coverage.
UPDATE: A couple of additional thoughts. If Republicans do indeed move Rubio to Tuesday night, they will face questions about what could be perceived as a demotion—from his role as the man introducing the GOP nominee to a warm-up act to Chris Christie's keynote speech. Rubio's announced role at the convention has gotten lots of attention in the national and Florida press, particularly in Spanish-language media.
How would the changes be covered?
Even if Rubio is moved to 10 p.m. Tuesday night, intruding on the plans of the networks to open their convention coverage, his speech is likely to be covered extensively. But it's possible that it won't be broadcast live and it's possible that in just an hour of primetime coverage the networks would choose to cover only part of it.