COLUMBIA — Gov. Nikki Haley has landed a coveted speaking spot at the Republican National Convention. Haley’s speech at the Tampa, Fla., gathering later this month figures to bolster the first-term Republican’s national reputation.

Scott Huffmon, a Winthrop University political scientist, said the appearance likely will help Haley both nationally and at home.

“She is a very good public speaker. It’s probably going to raise her recognition and favorability nationally,” he said. It’s not yet known when Haley will speak at the presidential nominating event, which runs Aug. 27-30.

Prime-time convention speaking spots are considered the most precious, and often are used to roll out up-and-coming party figures like Haley to a broader audience.

Former S.C. GOP chairman Katon Dawson helped organize the speaker lineup for the 2008 national convention.

“We were looking for and still are looking for the rising stars of the Republican Party,” he said.

Beth Myers, a close adviser to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, called Haley last week to offer her a speaking spot.

Myers is in charge of Romney’s vice presidential search.

Haley has said she is not being vetted for the No. 2 role and is not interested in the post.

Nonetheless, Haley has been a willing surrogate for Romney, campaigning in several states for the former Massachusetts governor.

She endorsed Romney this year and in 2008, while he endorsed Haley’s gubernatorial campaign.

Although he ultimately lost badly in South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary, Romney likely is still grateful to Haley, said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

“In addition, Haley represents diversity, and the GOP needs to project more of that,” he said. “Minorities are overwhelmingly behind President Obama at this juncture, so the Republicans want to at least show that the party has minorities in high office.”

Haley is Indian-American and the first woman and racial minority elected governor of South Carolina.

She said in a statement that the convention will offer a time to rally around Romney.

“The future generations of our children and our grandchildren are at stake in this election, Haley said. “While Americans work to build their businesses and create jobs, leaders of the Democratic Party have spent more than three years raising taxes, increasing spending and taking away our health care choices. The Republican National Convention will be a time for not just our party but our country to come together and get behind Mitt Romney as the next president of the United States. I look forward to being a part of this historic event.”

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