Condoleezza Rice, Nikki Haley, Susana Martinez to speak at Republican National Convention

Condoleeza Rice

Condoleeza Rice (Credit: Getty Images)

WASHINGTON -- A trio of female firsts and three former GOP presidential contenders are among the first speakers disclosed for the Republican National Convention at the end of the month in Tampa, Fla.

The convention schedule is packed with high-profile names to fire up divergent wings of the Republican Party, from social conservatives to fiscal hawks. They will speak before Mitt Romney accepts the presidential nomination.

Convention leaders were not ready to announce the keynote speaker, a prime slot that has the potential to catapult a rising member of the party to national prominence.

The schedule's outlines were first reported late Sunday by The Tampa Bay Times and were confirmed to The Associated Press by Republican officials with direct knowledge of the plan. They spoke on the condition of anonymity.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, the first women to head their states, are among those scheduled to address the gathering that begins Aug. 27. Martinez is also the country's first female Hispanic governor.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the first black woman to hold that job, is also scheduled to speak.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona is to speak, as is a one-time rival, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. The two, along with Romney, vied for the 2008 presidential nomination. McCain outlasted Romney and the former Baptist pastor in the primary campaign.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who briefly ran for the GOP nomination in 2000, also has a speaking slot, along with Florida Gov. Rick Scott. The tea party favorites are to speak to fiscal issues many Republicans hold dear.

"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 a statement. Republicans are holding back on announcing others, including the keynoter.

In 2004, a little-known state senator from Illinois named Barack Obama used his turn at the Democratic National Convention in Boston to gain national prominence and, four years later, the White House.

When a keynote speaker is announced, that could indicate that Romney has decided against that person as a running mate.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin are among those Romney is thought to be weighing for the vice presidential slot or for the keynote. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, may also be contenders for running mate.

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