COLUMBIA — Gov. Nikki Haley’s selection for a prime-time speaking spot at next week’s Republican National Convention could serve as a springboard for a future outside South Carolina, political analysts said Monday.
“It is obvious that her landing a coveted spot says that the leadership of the party views her in a positive light and sees her as having some future on the national stage,” said University of South Carolina professor Robert Oldendick.
Haley will speak at 10 p.m. Monday, the first day of the four-day gathering in Tampa, Fla., her office confirmed.
The governor’s remarks figure to introduce Haley to a national audience largely unfamiliar with her.
“This is a way to give her the national exposure that might set something up in the future,” said Michael Bitzer, a professor at Catawba College and a longtime observer of South Carolina politics.
“If not for national ambitions, perhaps for a Cabinet position.”
For months, national media outlets mentioned Haley as a possible running mate or Cabinet official for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Although Haley has said she isn’t interested in such a national position, many have remained skeptical of her claims that she would not accept a Cabinet role if offered. Bitzer said Haley’s selection for a high-profile speaking slot also was a way for Romney to thank her for her endorsement in the run-up to South Carolina’s GOP primary in January. Romney went on to lose badly to Newt Gingrich.
Haley’s selection signals the GOP’s desire to reach out to women, though her prime-time billing was likely decided before the party’s U.S. Senate candidate in Missouri made remarks about rape that have generated widespread outrage since Sunday, Oldendick said.
Haley’s speech will center on two main themes, according to her Chief of Staff Tim Pearson.
He said the remarks will focus on the administration’s battles with the federal government and her relationship with Romney and wife Ann, using the latter to explain why Romney is the right choice for president.
Ann Romney is expected to deliver her own speech on the first night of the convention.
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