TAMPA, Florida — Republican White House challenger Mitt Romney's campaign tried to mollify his defeated rival Ron Paul on Friday, promising to air a video about the libertarian at their party's convention.
Paul fell way behind Romney in the primary campaign to choose a Republican to challenge Democrat Barack Obama for the US presidency in November, but his passionate supporters are a small but noisy faction of the party.
It is the first acknowledgement of an official role at the four-day event for Paul, who put up a stubborn campaign against eventual winner Romney and whose delegates still had the potential to disrupt the proceedings.
"On Tuesday night, we look forward to showing a short film about Ron Paul," Romney campaign strategist Russ Schriefer told reporters on a conference call from Tampa, Florida, where the convention kicks off on Monday.
Schriefer described the video as a "tribute" to Paul in which "several of his colleagues will give testimony to his principles and his dedication to America."
Romney will come out of the four-day gala as the nominee, but Paul has been pushing for a speaking role and he has not unbound his delegates to vote for Romney, as other candidates like former House speaker Newt Gingrich have.
"Governor Romney and congressman Paul, while they certainly disagree on many issues, they always have had... a lot of mutual respect," Schriefer said, in explaining campaign's willingness to work with Paul's team and air the film.
He did not say whether Paul will address the convention, but noted that Paul's son Rand Paul, a US senator from Kentucky, has a speaking role Monday.
Schriefer also dismissed reports that the convention's traditional "roll call" of state delegates was moved forward to Monday to potentially thwart any disturbance by Ron Paul's delegates.
The roll call traditionally occurs deeper into the event, allowing a crescendo to build towards the nomination, but Schriefer said the decision to do the roll call Monday was made "months ago."
Schriefer also sought to downplay talk that the speech by Romney's wife Ann might be shifted from Monday night to a later date because US television networks had opted out of broadcasting the opening night live.
"We're hoping and still optimistic that the networks are going to change their mind and cover Monday night," he said.
Asked directly if Ann Romney might be moved to another night if networks still don't cover Monday, Schriefer said: "I'm optimistic that the right thing will be done."
Mitt Romney will accept the nomination on Thursday.
Tens of thousands of people including 2,286 delegates and 2,125 alternates are descending on Tampa for the convention, which is being held at a large sports arena in the city center and is costing an estimated $123 million.
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