WASHINGTON — WASHINGTON - After protests from the party's conservative wing, the Republican National Committee has invited several conservative Republicans to speak during the presidential nominating convention next month in New York.
New additions include Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas and House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois.
Two prominent blacks - Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele and Miss America 2003 Erika Harold - are also scheduled to address the delegates.
Originally, the party announced a lineup of speakers heavy on moderates, such as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who support abortion rights and oppose a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage.
That raised the ire of social conservatives such as Paul Weyrich, chairman of the conservative Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
"If the president is embarrassed to be seen with conservatives at the convention, maybe conservatives will be embarrassed to be seen with the president on Election Day," Weyrich wrote earlier this month.
Republican National Committee spokeswoman Christine Iverson denied yesterday that the new speakers were added to appease conservative critics.
"We had said all along that members of Congress would play a major role in the convention," she said, noting that seven of the nine new names on the list are members of the House or Senate. "We announced the members of Congress and other speakers as soon as we had more names to announce."
Other members of Congress added to the list of speakers are: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, Sen. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, Rep. Heather Wilson of New Mexico, and Rep. Anne M. Northup of Kentucky.
Other previously scheduled speakers are first lady Laura Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne Cheney.
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