Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008

Steele lands speaking slot at Republican National Convention

Speech will be second time GOPAC chairman has appeared on the RNC's Tuesday bill

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Former Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele will speak Tuesday, Sept. 2, during the Republican National Convention, organizers announced Wednesday.

The convention will be held Sept. 1-4 in St. Paul, Minn.

Steele will share the stage on the convention's second day with a number of big names, including former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska and former governors Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania and Mike Huckabee of Arkansas.

Soon after leaving office in 2007 on the heels of an unsuccessful 2006 U.S. Senate campaign, Steele took the reins at GOPAC, the national political action committee focused on developing Republican candidates. He succeeded former U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts Jr. of Oklahoma. Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, also was once chairman of the organization.

Tuesday at the convention is the traditional day for speakers to heap platitudes on the presumptive presidential nominee. The day's theme — "Reform" — ties in with the convention's overall theme of "Country First."

"On Tuesday, the convention program will underscore [John McCain's] vision of a government that is transparent, principled and worthy of the American people it serves," said a news release announcing the convention program.

Steele spoke on the Tuesday night of the 2004 convention in New York, a high-profile speaking slot that signaled his rise through the ranks of the Republican Party.

Earlier this year he received attention as a possible vice presidential running mate for McCain.

"It's really cool for us," Chris Cavey, McCain's Maryland campaign chairman, said of Steele's speaking slot. "I'm just thrilled for Michael. Anytime anyone from Maryland can be highlighted, whether it's Michael or whether it's Bob Ehrlich, it's very cool."