Gov. Bobby Jindal will not be giving the keynote speech at the Republican National Convention. That plum role went to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
However, the GOP announced Thursday that there will be a spot on the stage for Jindal in Tampa, Fla., later this month.
Jindal will be a “headliner” along with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell; Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio; Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.; former Democratic Rep. Artur Davis, of Birmingham, Ala.; and Rep. Connie Mack IV, R-Fla., who running for the U.S. Senate in Florida.
“These speakers will offer a variety of insights into why we need new leadership in Washington, D.C., and how important it is for us to stand unified as we nominate Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan,” Republican National Convention Chief Executive Officer William Harris said in a prepared statement.
Delegates will gather at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Aug. 27-30 to officially make Romney the Republican presidential candidate.
Romney chose Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman, as his running mate.
Jindal flew to Virginia on Thursday to campaign for Romney and Ryan.
In a prepared statement, Jindal said he already is thinking about his convention speech.
“I look forward to talking about the important choice facing our nation. We can either go the way of Europe, grow the public sector and make Americans more dependent on government or we can get behind Mitt Romney, reinvigorate the private sector and get our people back to work,” the governor said.
At the convention, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., will introduce Romney to the crowd.
The Republican National Committee did not give a day or time for Jindal’s speech.
However, political experts said the convention gig is significant, especially if Jindal delivers a good enough speech to erase the criticism he drew over his nationally televised and widely panned speech in 2009.
The reviews on Jindal’s approach to the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s first speech to a joint gathering of Congress ranged from “teeth-grindingly awful” to “almost childish.”
Former Gov. Buddy Roemer said he would encourage Jindal to be humorous and to stay positive in his second shot at dazzling a national audience.
Roemer said Jindal does best when he pokes fun at himself a little bit. He said the American public likes to see a sense of humor. “It gives him another chance to show his best side to a national audience, and I think he’ll do well,” Roemer said.
Kirby Goidel, political analyst and director of the LSU Public Policy Research Lab, said Jindal can be happy that he received an invitation.
“It means he’s bigger than Sarah Palin,” Goidel joked, referring to the former GOP vice presidential candidate who does have not a speaking role at the convention.
Goidel said Jindal will never be the type of speaker who fires up a crowd. He said the governor should not try to be folksy or overly impressive.
“Keep it short but keep it
focused within the realm of what he does well which is talk numbers and talk policy,” he said.
Southern University political science professor Albert L. Samuels said Jindal would be wise to consult with experts while preparing for his speech. He said the appearance gives Jindal an opportunity to make the 2009 speech a distant memory.
“These speeches can be very important. In 2004, a lot of people didn’t know who Barack Obama was until he gave that speech at the Democratic Convention,” Samuels said.
Former Insurance Commissioner Jim Brown said he is certain Romney will see that Jindal sits down with professionals before taking the stage.
For Republicans, Brown said, Jindal represents ethnicity and the South.
“He certainly stumbled four years ago, but one speech does not a candidacy break,” he said.