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GOP Finalizes Prime Time Convention Line-up

TAMPA, FLA. — After a flurry of juggling today, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign and Republican convention organizers signed off on the speakers who will appear in prime time during next week’s GOP convention in Tampa.

Last minute changes were made after the broadcast networks decided not to cover Monday evening, when Romney’s wife, Ann, was scheduled to address  delegates in the Tampa Bay Times Forum arena. Mrs. Romney is considered among her husband’s most valuable campaign surrogates, and after considering several options, the campaign chose to move her speech to Tuesday and move New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez to Wednesday.

Reports surfaced this afternoon that the campaign was considering pushing Mrs. Romney’s speech to Thursday, and moving Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) to Tuesday. The campaign said Rubio offered to make the switch but it preferred to leave him in his original slot, as the speaker who will offer the final nominating speech for Romney before the former Massachusetts governor formally accepts the GOP presidential nomination.

“Sen. Rubio was incredibly gracious to offer his speaking slot to Mr. Romney, and we thank him for his kind offer. However, he will remain the last speaker in prime time Thursday night before Gov. Romney accepts the nomination,” Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades said in a statement. “Sen. Rubio represents the future of the Republican party and we can think of no better person to introduce Gov. Romney on this important night.”

Here’s the final prime time line-up, as released this evening by convention organizers:

Monday: former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Tuesday: Ann Romney; Mrs. Luce Vela Fortuno, wife of Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the official convention keynote speaker.

Wednesday: New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez; former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.), who will accept the GOP nomination for vice president.

Thursday: Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.); Mitt Romney, who will accept the GOP nomination for president.