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Olympians, Ron Paul tribute to be featured at RNC

With the overarching theme “A Better Future,” the convention’s four nights of speeches will build as a narrative.

The agenda for next week’s Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. will include a who’s who of GOP heavy-hitters, but an assortment of decidedly non-political voices as well, Romney Campaign Strategist Russ Schriefer told reporters in a call Friday morning.

With the overarching theme “A Better Future,” Schriefer said the convention’s four nights of speeches would build as a narrative, from Monday night’s discussion of President Barack Obama’s broken promises (“We Can Do Better”), to Tuesday’s presentation of Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s vision (“We Built It”), to a telling of Romney’s own story on the final convention night (“We Believe in America”).

While the convention’s wrap-up session will include some Republican stars, such as Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) in addition to Romney’s keynote address, people who know Romney outside of the political arena will also share the stage.

Schriefer said people who Romney helped through his church will discuss who the candidate is on a personal level and how he made a difference in their lives. Then, a trio of Olympians will take the stage to talk about how Romney’s fiscal prowess saved the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

While there will be about 15 Olympic athletes present, the speakers will be speed skating gold medalist Derek Parra, five-time Olympic medalist Kim Rhode, a skeet shooter, and Mike Eruzione, the hockey star of “Miracle on Ice” fame.

“We can really tell Governor Romney’s story,” Schriefer said. “We can show that Governor Romney is uniquely qualified to take on the problems that this country is facing.”

At a convention that has been popularly discussed as an opportunity to unite a diverse Republican base, Schriefer announced one apparently overt olive branch that will also share the stage on Tuesday night: a video tribute to the Libertarian-leaning Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, congressman from Texas.

Schriefer said the timing seemed right for such a gesture of unity.

“Governor Romney and Congressman Paul, while they certainly disagree on many issues, there??s a lot of mutual respect between the two of them,”  he said. “Congressman Paul??s people came to us and said could we do this tribute to him, and we said absolutely. We know that everyone??s not going to agree with us all the time, but we know the Republican Party??s going to unite and beat Barack Obama in November.”

Paul has not endorsed Romney for president to date, although his son Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has done so and will speak during the convention.

Written By

Hope Hodge first covered military issues for the Daily News of Jacksonville, N.C., where her beat included the sprawling Marine Corps base, Camp Lejeune. During her two years at the paper, she received investigative reporting awards for exposing a former Marine who was using faked military awards to embezzle disability pay from the government and for breaking news about the popularity of the designer drug Spice in the ranks. Her work has also appeared in The American Spectator, New York Sun, WORLD Magazine, and The Washington Post. Hodge was born near Boston, Mass., where she grew up as a lover of Revolutionary War history and fall foliage. She also discovered a love of politics and policy as a grassroots volunteer and activist on Beacon Hill. She graduated in 2009 with a degree in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics from The King's College in New York City, where she served as editor-in-chief of her school newspaper and worked as a teaching assistant when not freelancing or using student discounts to see Broadway shows. Hope??s email is