TAMPA, Fla. – Governors are front and center at this week’s Republican National Convention, the party’s national stars, given prominent speaking roles, ferried in town cars from one delegation hotel to another.
For the past several years, governors have helped define the Republican Party brand and set its agenda, and nearly a dozen state chief execs are scheduled to address the delegates from the podium. At the top of the list: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is to give the convention keynote on Tuesday.
Also scheduled are Wisconsin's Scott Walker, Susana Martinez of New Mexico, Ohio's John Kasich, South Carolina's Nikki Haley, and Virginia’s Bob McDonnell, who chairs the Republican Governors Association, among others. (Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal was to speak, but he headed home to brace for Hurricane Isaac, which is threatening the Gulf Coast.
Was he left off because his job-approval rating is among the lowest of any chief executive in the nation – 38 percent rated him positively in an Inquirer Poll published Monday? Too hot to handle because of his clumsy-sounding support for a bill that would require women to have an ultrasound before an abortion in Pennsylvania? Well, McDonnell famously pushed the same thing.
Vito Canuso, chairman of the Philadelphia GOP, said that he figured Corbett may have been left out because there’s already a Northeastern governor to feature: Christie.
“Chris Christie’s has the flair,” Canuso said. “Plus he’s got another year of experience and he has to deal with a Democratic legislature.”
Corbett, who is in Tampa and held a reception for the state delegation at the Florida Aquarium, did not seem ruffled Monday morning as he fired up the crowd at the Pennsylvania breakfast.
“It’s not his thing anyway,” Canuso said of Corbett, echoing other fans of the governor who appreciate his hard-working persona.
“I would have loved to have had the governor speak, and Sen. Pat Toomey,” Pennsylvania GOP chairman Rob Gleason said, but he feels secure in the state’s place in the national party: an electoral sweep in the 2010 midterms got a lot of attention.
“In Pennsylvania, we’re not flashy,” Gleason said. “We’re not here today, gone tomorrow. We’re steady.”
Corbett is a reflection of the state, the chairman said during a luncheon with reporters. “Tom just gets the job done, that’s probably why,” he is not speaking. “Some politicians are great at shameless self-promotion, but not everybody is like that.”