WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney’s campaign said on Friday morning that they had agreed to air a tribute video to one of his former Republican rivals, Ron Paul, in an apparent effort to quell some of the discontent among the Texas congressman’s supporters.
In a briefing with reporters, top Romney strategist Russ Schriefer said staffers were approached by Paul supporters and had agreed to air the tribute on Tuesday night. The film will feature “several of his colleagues [who] will give testimony to his principles and his dedication to America.”
Paul supporters have spent months organizing at state and local party conventions, with the hopes of making an impact at the Republican National Convention when it starts in Tampa on Monday. Romney’s campaign has been trying to prevent any embarrassing displays of friction from within the party.
“We feel that we’re in a good place. We know not everybody is going to agree with us all the time,” Schriefer said. “But we know that as a Republican Party that we’re going to unite and beat Barack Obama in November.”
Romney’s campaign is also planning to showcase people that he has helped through his Mormon church, highlighting Romney’s faith in a way that he has been reluctant to do during most of his political career.
“As part of telling Governor Romney’s story, we will be having several people who he worked with through his church that he helped in different times in their lives,” Schriefer said. “We’ll have someone who followed Governor Romney as a leader in the church, who will talk about what it was like to fill Governor Romney’s shoes in that role.”
The convention will have different themes for each night as a way to highlight the messages they are trying to drive. Monday night will be “We Can Do Better,” for example, with speakers highlighting what they view as the failure of the Obama administration. Tuesday night will be “We Built It.”
Wednesday night’s theme will be “We Can Change it,” with a focus on some of the policies and positions that Romney has highlighted in his campaign.
The final night, when Romney will speak, is “We Believe in America.” In addition to having speakers from Romney’s church, there will be about 15 Olympians on hand to talk about Romney’s role in the 2002 Winter Games.
Three of them will speak from the stage: Kim Rhode, the 2012 gold medalist in skeet shooting; Mike Eruzione, from the 1980 US hockey team; and Derek Parra, the 2002 gold medalist in speed-skating.
Still up in the air is when Ann Romney will speak. She is currently on the schedule for Monday night, although none of the networks is planning to cover that night of the convention in order to give equal time to the Democratic National Convention. The Republicans are meeting for four days, and the Democrats are meeting for three.
“As of now, we’re hoping that the networks are going to change their mind and cover Monday night,” Schriefer said. “I’m optimistic that the right thing will be done.”
Still, he seemed to leave open the possibility that they would change plans if the networks don’t cover that night. Ann Romney is viewed as one of her husband’s best assets – and as a good conduit to telling a story that can help win over women voters, a group that Romney badly trails with – and the campaign is eager to have her speak on a night of maximum impact.