Republicans retool convention to avoid Isaac: who's in, who's out?

Up-and-comers in the GOP are still in prime speaking spots, as are Ann Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan. Action at the GOP convention will be suspended Monday, while Isaac sweeps past.

The storm-threatened Republican National Convention will cram four planned days of political theater into three by cutting some speakers, shortening some speeches, and starting evening speechifying earlier than previously planned, a senior strategist for Mitt Romney’s campaign told reporters on a conference call Sunday evening.

The convention will officially gavel in at 2 p.m. Monday but will be in session for no more than 10 minutes, said Russ Schriefer, the GOP strategist who has been the chief Romney campaign spokesman for convention logistics. The Republican National Committee called off Monday’s affairs due to the impending storm Isaac, which may be a hurricane by Monday as it blows past just west of Tampa, Fla., where tens of thousands of convention-goers and media representatives are gathering.

The proceedings will resume on Tuesday at 2 p.m. with Republicans taking their roll call vote in early evening to formally nominate Mr. Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin, to the Republican ticket. The convention’s new schedule appears to have cut only one previously named speaker: Steve Cohen of Screen Machine, a portable crushing and screening equipment manufacturer. [Editor's note: A later version of the RNC program showed Mr. Cohen to still have a speaking role.]

However, convention planners offered a list of 15 GOP House members and House candidates plus three Senate candidates who could get less time at the podium in order to make way for those whom Mr. Schriefer dubbed “headliners” originally scheduled to speak Monday. Among the headliners are Sen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who will now speak Wednesday, along with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Texas GOP Senate candidate Ted Cruz, who will speak Tuesday.

The convention did not alter the most prime speaking space -- 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. -- on any of the remaining nights, Schriefer noted. Romney’s wife, Ann, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) will headline Tuesday’s proceedings, followed by Representative Ryan on Wednesday and Sen. Marco Rubio (R) of Florida introducing Romney himself on Thursday. The evening speeches on Wednesday and Thursday will begin at 7 p.m. to fit in all speakers.

Schriefer also announced one other bit of convention showmanship: Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus will start a clock counting how much debt the US accumulates every second when he gavels in the proceedings on Monday. When House Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio concludes the ceremonies on Thursday, he’ll stop the clock to demonstrate how much debt the nation racked up during the course of the GOP convention. 

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