Rick Santorum, Jeb Bush, Sen. Rand Paul to speak at convention

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who fought a tough battle against presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney during the primaries, has been given a speaking role at the GOP convention in Tampa, Fla. 

Santorum will join former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin as the latest slate of headline speakers at the convention, according to a release from the Republican National Committee.

“He is certainly looking forward to sharing with America the reasons President Obama must be defeated, and inspiring conservatives all across the country to help elect Mitt Romney,” said a former Santorum adviser who confirmed the decision to Fox News.

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Details about when Santorum will address the Tampa gathering have not been released.

Santorum had been eager to receive a role at the GOP convention, with a key aide telling The Hill that he was planning his own event to rally support for Romney during the convention and warning that conservatives would be "disturbed" if Santorum did not receive a prominent spot in Tampa.

Romney campaign officials were initially apprehensive about Santorum speaking at the convention, according to a report from Reuters, fearing the onetime rival would go off-message in his address.

Santorum waged a bitter fight against Romney during the protracted GOP primaries, rallying support as a social-conservative alternative to the former Massachusetts governor and taking the Iowa caucuses.


The former senator lobbed sharp criticisms at Romney during the fight, claiming that his rival was not conservative enough to distinguish himself from President Obama and defeat him in the general election.

He eventually suspended his campaign in early April and announced support for Romney a month later in a late-night email that was seen by many conservatives as a lukewarm endorsement for the presumptive nominee. 

But after a meeting between the two in June, Santorum said told a gathering of social conservative voters that Romney’s message on family issues was “solid,” and last month he attended his first campaign event for the GOP presidential candidate. 

Santorum, Gov. Bush and Paul join other prominent GOP leaders who have been announced as convention speakers. 

On Sunday, the Tampa Bay Times reported that Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had also received headline speaking slots. They will be joined by GOP Govs. Rick Scott (Fla.), Nikki Haley (S.C.), John Kasich (Ohio) and Susana Martinez (N.M.), as well as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

The Republican National Committee has yet to reveal the convention’s keynote speaker for the convention, which takes place Aug. 27 to 30.

— This story was updated at 9:38 a.m.