High-Profile Names To Speak On RNC's First Full Day

Mara Liasson joins Melissa Block from Tampa to talk about Tuesday's speakers at the Republican national convention. Among them are Mitt Romney's wife Ann, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Rick Santorum.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

This afternoon in Tampa, Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus raised a gavel.

(SOUNDBITE OF REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION)

REINCE PRIEBUS: This convention will come to order.

BLOCK: On this first full day of the convention, delegates took care of official business, approving the party platform and rules. Today is the day when Mitt Romney formally becomes the GOP presidential nominee, and Hurricane Isaac has not deterred Republicans from a full lineup of speakers. NPR's Mara Liasson is overlooking the convention floor at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, and she joins me now. Hey, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hey, Melissa.

BLOCK: And one main feature tonight is a speech by Ann Romney. What do you expect?

LIASSON: Well, Ann Romney is going to try to address Mitt Romney's likeability deficit. She's going to try to paint a portrait of him that's different from the stereotype, in the words of former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, that he's a out-of-touch, wealthy plutocrat married to a known equestrian. She's going to talk about him as a son, a father, a husband, how he lives the values of his parents and how he can relate to the problems and troubles of ordinary middle-class Americans.

BLOCK: And, Mara, the much-anticipated keynote speech is going to come from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who many Republicans favored as the vice presidential pick.

LIASSON: Yes. Conventions are always - one of the storylines in every convention is the fight for next time, and this year it's even more compelling because Romney himself doesn't inspire too much passion among the delegates. But the undercard, the bench, the people who are going to run in four or eight years really do, and Chris Christie is a rock star among them.

He has a big personality. He's bombastic and confrontational. The question for Christie tonight is will he do more promoting of Mitt Romney or himself? He did say that he's not going to tone anything down. As he said, he's not going to get a personality-ectomy for tonight.

BLOCK: Another speaker tonight, Mara, is a former presidential candidate, Mitt Romney's former rival, Rick Santorum. What do you expect to hear from Rick Santorum tonight?

LIASSON: Well, Rick Santorum came in second. He - it is unclear what his future is going to be. I think he would like to solidify his position as the leader of the Christian evangelical wing of the party, but he does have a lot of competition if he wants to run again. There's Christie. There's Paul Ryan. There's Marco Rubio. There are a lot of people champing at the bit.

So I think Santorum will talk about the themes that he used on the campaign trail, a lot of talk about faith and family and morality. And he does have a lot of delegates here, and he was given the speaking slot rather late in the planning.

BLOCK: OK. That's NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson up in the skybox at the Republican National Convention. Mara, thank you.

LIASSON: Thank you, Melissa.

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