Florida's importance reflected in speakers selected for RNC

10:27 AM, Aug 9, 2012   |    comments
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Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi
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Tampa, Florida -- So far 16 speakers have been announced for the Republican National Convention and three or almost 20% of those addressing the convention are from Florida. 

No other state or U.S. territory has more than one person currently scheduled to speak at the convention.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is the latest Floridian to be given a speaking slot. She joins former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and current Governor Rick Scott.

But the selection of so many from the Sunshine State is not a surprise to University of South Florida Professor of Political Science Dr. Susan MacManus.

"When you look at Florida Republicans, they are much more diverse than Republicans nationally and they're from a very critical state and a number of them are young and up and coming. They're the future of the party," she said.

But don't expect the list of Florida speakers to end at three.

It's expected Sen. Marco Rubio will speak -- whether he is Mitt Romney's choice for vice president or not -- while others could be selected too.

"(Florida Commissioner of Agriculture) Adam Putnam also is a very good rising star, lots of people see him as a future governor. He was a leader in Washington so he would definitely have potential (as a speaker) I think," noted Tampa Bay Times Political Editor Adam Smith.

Others from Florida that could be asked to speak, include former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker who is already rumored to be in line for a cabinet job should Romney win and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the first Cuban elected to congress.

So why are so many Floridians being asked to address the convention?

Pinellas State Committeeman Tony DiMatteo said it's because the state has a deep bench of talented Republicans, but also admitted it's because his party cannot recapture the White House without winning Florida.

"Nope. I'll be simple. I think Florida is the ballgame and I think in Florida you have Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties that anchor the I-4 corridor which I believe, I think some political people think are the two most important counties in the country and I agree with them," DeMatteo told 10 News.

And that is why MacManus says you can expect a heavy dose of Florida speakers when the convention begins later this month.

"There's not going to be a day at the convention that there's not going to be a Florida speaker. I mean, every single day some Floridian and probably multiple Floridians will get a speaking role."

The Republican National Convention is scheduled to begin on August 27th and will be held at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

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