The Republican National Committee has announced the list of speakers for its convention in Tampa, and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is among them. This will do little to appease Paulites at the convention, but this is also the greatest gesture the present Republican Party can make toward Ron Paul.
The GOP today is a mess. Controlling both Congress and the White House during the Bush administration hurt the party to the extent that Obama sold himself in 2008 as the candidate of change. Two years and a financial crisis later, the 2010 Tea Party swept new Republicans into office who were somehow different from Bush-era Republicans. The party still doesn’t know how to incorporate this base, which is evidenced by the convention’s list of speakers.
The conservative Christian Rick Santorum was one of the strongest opponents of Romney during the primaries and is joined by Fox News’ own Mike Huckabee. Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Governors Halley and Martinez provide a non-Palin female presence at the convention, even if that presence may advocate abortion rights and a fast track for illegal immigrant to citizenship. And besides the moderate John McCain and Jeb Bush, Tea Partiers Rick Scott and Rand Paul will also speak.
The diversity of the offering reflects the giant question mark that is the current face of the Republican Party, namely, Mitt Romney. He has remained deliberately vague on the issues, trying to cast the widest net possible to pick up every voter unsatisfied with Obama. Ideally, there’s a speaker for everyone at the convention who is even mildly interested in voting Republican.
Which is precisely why Ron Paul was not asked to speak at the convention. The man hasn’t changed his talking points in decades, which is why his followers love him and the amorphous GOP does not. Mainstream parties survive by adapting, and the primary debates showed that Ron Paul is not saying the same things as other Republicans, especially regarding foreign policy. The GOP recognizes his growing pull and strong base, but the representative from Texas is still holding a separate rally. Rand Paul has consciously taken a more compromising route to, he and Paulites hope, change the GOP from within — per his explanation for endorsing Mitt Romney to Sean Hannity. That approach is what makes Rand palatable to the GOP while is father is not.