TAMPA, Fla. — On Thursday night, the Republican convention schedule has a mystery hole just before Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Mitt Romney’s speeches. The space is scheduled for “remarks” but simply lists “To be Announced” where the name of the speaker should be.
The Wall Street Journal speculated, and The Drudge Report highlighted, that the mysterious speaker could be former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
But that’s almost entirely implausible. Palin is popular with some conservatives, but toxic to the nation at large. There is no way she would be the mystery speaker in a prime time slot. Plus, she is vocally siding against Team Romney on Republican convention rules changes. That’s not something a special mystery speaker for Romney would do.
But since people are speculating who this mystery speaker could be, here are the top 5 possibilities:
1.) Joe Lieberman
A high profile Democrat endorsing Romney on national television would obviously be seen as a boon for the Romney campaign. Yes, Lieberman is officially an “independent Democrat” in the Senate now and, yes, he endorsed Arizona Sen. John McCain’s presidential candidacy at the convention in 2008. But getting Lieberman to speak would still be a pretty big coup for Romney. Lieberman was, after all, a Democratic vice presidential nominee just over a decade ago.
Lieberman has yet to endorse anyone this cycle and said in April that he wasn’t planning on endorsing President Obama or the Republican nominee. But like the speaker he would precede, Marco Rubio, Lieberman has been a critic of President Obama’s foreign policy. He is also seen as a possible cabinet member in a Republican administration, especially since he is leaving the Senate. It seems quite possible that if there is indeed a mystery speaker, it could be Joe.
2.) Colin Powell
Sure, a lot of conservatives aren’t big fans of Colin Powell, but that’s not the point of the convention. Romney excited the base by picking Paul Ryan, now he needs to reach out to the undecided independents who will decide the election. And retired Gen. Powell, who switched party lines to endorse Barack Obama in 2008, remains popular nationally. People see him, fairly or unfairly, as an honest broker. If he were to reverse course and drop his support for Obama and endorse Romney in a prime time mystery convention speech Thursday, that would be a major get for Romney.
3.) Nancy Reagan
Nancy endorsed Romney’s presidential bid at the end of May, but it would be high drama for the 91-year-old widow of the most revered conservative leader of the 20th century to come on stage and give Romney her husband’s imprimatur in a prime time address. Reagan was loved by independents as well, and spinning the narrative that that this election is like that of 1980 when Reagan came to the rescue to save the economy from Jimmy Carter seems like something Team Romney would relish.
4.) Clint Eastwood
The 82-year old actor known for his toughness and grit has already endorsed Romney. While many Hollywood actors are prone to scorn for being out of touch elitists, Eastwood doesn’t carry that image. He isn’t the Hollywood-type most Americans would recoil from for injecting himself into politics. An endorsement from Eastwood, who served as mayor of a California city and who George H.W. Bush reportedly considered for his vice presidential nominee, would seem to fit the bill as someone who would work as a high-profile mystery prime time speaker.
5.) Tim Tebow
Okay, this is by far the least likely of the five. You might call it a Hail Mary. But immediately before the mystery speaker, the convention will feature Olympians lending their support to Romney. What if immediately after, another great athlete with national appeal strode on stage to endorse Romney? Tebow-mania is electric and the son of missionaries would seem to fit in well in the Republican Party. Probably won’t happen, but it is more likely than Sarah Palin being the mystery speaker.
This, of course, is all speculation. Perhaps there won’t even be a big-name mystery speaker. But if there is as the schedule suggests their might be, these are five names that immediately come to mind as making sense for what Romney is trying to accomplish with the convention.