TAMPA, Fla. – With Monday scrubbed because of Tropical Storm Isaac, organizers scrambled to revise their schedule so that all the headliners booked for the first day would still get their chance to appear at the Republican National Convention, including two speakers with Arkansas ties.
Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, will now speak on Tuesday afternoon while former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will take the stage on Wednesday evening at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Huckabee has been assigned the slot just before former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is scheduled to speak at 10 p.m. EDT.
An early endorser of Mitt Romney during the GOP presidential primary race, Griffin was picked to chair Romney’s campaign in Arkansas. He was on hand when Romney came to Little Rock last week for a private fundraiser that raked in over $2 million, which according to the Romney campaign was the largest Republican fundraiser in Arkansas history.
Convention organizers planned to open the event Monday with a session expected to last less than five minutes. Delegates aren’t expected to attend.
The Arkansas delegation met Sunday, electing Joseph LeBlanc of Mount Home to be a delegate. He replaces Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, who decided to remain in Arkansas. LeBlanc, had been an alternate – his alternate slot went to Donnie Scroggins of Truman, Ark., according to Katherine Vasilos, a spokeswoman for the Arkansas GOP.
The Arkansas delegation held a breakfast meeting Monday at the Hilton Garden Inn where they are staying. Huckabee was the scheduled guest speaker for the morning event in the historic Ybor District of Tampa.
On Tuesday, delegates will hold an official roll call to nominate their presidential candidate. Mitt Romney is expected to win most of the votes, although there are some Ron Paul supporters who plan to cast their support to the Texas congressman.
Paul supporters held a raucous rally at the University of South Florida Sun Dome that drew about 6,000. Paul is not speaking at the convention but his son, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., will address the GOP.
Todd Ellis, a delegate from Little Rock, was at the Paul rally that lasted six hours. The event culminated with an hour-long speech by Paul in which he laid out his libertarian vision for the future.
Paul drew loud cheers when he called for an end to overseas military involvement, an audit of the Federal Reserve and restoration of civil liberties.