What You Should Know About Thursday’s Republican Convention Speakers

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"What You Should Know About Thursday’s Republican Convention Speakers"

As the GOP concludes its convention in Tampa, Florida this week, ThinkProgress continues keep you updated on everything you need to know about the featured speakers.

We’ll live blog the festivities tonight starting at 7:00 PM. Here is a rundown of Thursday’s luminaries:

Callista and Newt Gingrich

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA)

Newt Gingrich spent most of the past two years savaging Mitt Romney in the primary campaign. Many of his attacks focused on Romney’s record at Bain Capital — labeling them “rich people figuring out clever legal ways to loot a company, leaving behind 1,700 families without a job.” He called out Romney for his false claim of creating 100,000 jobs and said he would listen to Romney only if he’d “give back all the money he’s earned from bankrupting companies and laying off employees.” When Romney acknowledged that he was not concerned about the very poor, Gingrich slammed him, saying the Founding Fathers wanted equal opportunity for the poor. When asked about Romney’s immigration policy views, Gingrich noted that one must “live in a world of Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Island accounts and making $20 million for no work, to have some fantasy this far from reality.” Even after endorsing Romney, Gingrich continued to characterize the Republican nominee as a liar. The emnity was clearly mutual — throughout the campaign, Romney labeled Gingrich as an unregistered lobbyist for Freddie Mac, “at a time that Freddie Mac was not doing the right thing for the American people,” and said he “had to resign in disgrace” from Congress.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL)

Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL)

While his brother, former President George W. Bush, has largely avoided the political scene entirely since leaving office, the former Florida Gov. has emerged as something of a thorn in his party’s side in recent months. He has called the GOP’s immigration and tax policies –- which Mitt Romney has firmly embraced –- “short-sighted.” Bush recently criticized his party’s increasing intolerance of diversity of opinion, noting that “Ronald Reagan would have, based on his record of finding accommodation, finding some degree of common ground, as would my dad [former President George H.W. Bush] — they would have a hard time if you define the Republican party — and I don’t — as having an orthodoxy that doesn’t allow for disagreement, doesn’t allow for finding some common ground.” While Romney embraced Grover Norquist’s no new taxes under any circumstances ever pledge, Bush said “I don’t believe you outsource your principles and convictions to people.” Norquist called that comment an “insult” to Romney.

Grant Bennett

Bennett, who succeeded Romney as a bishop of a Mormon meetinghouse, was likely selected to speak on Romney’s faith. Nevertheless, Bennett’s presence on the speaker list undermines the convention’s “We Built This” message that successful businesspeople achieved that success without help from the government. Bennett is the president of CPS Technologies, a company that’s received millions of dollars worth of government funds.

Former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey (R-FL)

Former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey (R-MA)

When Romney opted not to seek re-election in 2006, he backed his handpicked Lt. Governor Healey to replace him as Governor. With Romney’s approval ratings in the low 30s, Healey garnered just 35 percent of the vote. During her campaign, she criticizing Romney for not doing enough to help small business, saying “I think the emphasis when the governor came into office was very much on `How do we go outside of Massachusetts and bring jobs in?’ My orientation is very different.” While many of her views matched the ones Romney espoused during the 2002 campaign, her support for civil unions, abortion rights, public funding for renewable energy, public lands, and comprehensive sex education do not mesh with Romney’s new “severely conservative” stances.

Staples Co-Founder Thomas Stemberg

Thomas Stemberg (left) was the co-founder of Staples along with Leo Kahn (right). During Romney’s tenure as CEO at Bain, the private equity form invested heavily in Staples, and the chain’s history is frequently held-up as evidence of Romney’s job reaction cred. Unfortunately for that cred, creative destruction is a sword that cuts both ways: From 1990 to 2012, jobs in the “Office Supplies and Stationary Stores” retail field actually declined by 13.5 percent even as Staples and the economy as a whole were adding jobs. Worse, the growth in the average weekly earnings of employees in this field failed to keep up with the growth in inflation. In other words, Staples was part of a business model that reduced jobs and drove down real wages in its field, even while reaping millions in profits for Bain’s investors. As for Stemberg himself, his other claim to fame was complaining earlier this year that President Obama’s health care reform hurts jobs by requiring businesses to provide new mothers with reasonable break time and a private area in which to breastfeed while on the clock.

Rep. Connie Mack IV (R-FL)

As he continues to change his mind, Mack has not yet decided what he thinks about Paul Ryan’s budget plan that would end Medicare as we know it. First he said he would vote for the extreme budget plan, then skipped the vote on it before calling it a “joke.” Now, he says he has not always backed the Ryan plan, and he is pushing his own “penny plan” that he claims will balance the budget sooner. And Mitt Romney’s immigration policies would use SB 1070 — Arizona’s harmful immigration law — as a national model, but Mack condemned the measure as “reminiscent of a time during World War II when the Gestapo in Germany stopped people on the street and asked for their papers without probable cause.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) floated the idea of proposing a GOP alternative to the DREAM Act, but after President Obama announced a new deportation directive to grant deferred action to DREAM Act-eligible young adults, Rubio complained that Congress will not be able to pass a legislative version of the President’s immigration directive because the “sense of urgency has been taken away” — even though the policy is only temporary. And while Mitt Romney has staked out far-right immigration stances in favor of harmful self-deportation measures, Rubio has said that “it feels kind of weird” to deport undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. And in his memoir released in June, Rubio wrote that he would immigrate illegally “if my kids went to sleep hungry every night.” His comparatively moderate immigration positions put Rubio at odds with other anti-immigrant officials who are Romney advisers and supporters.

Bain Capital Managing Director Bob White

Bob White is a former partner of Bain Capital and Romney adviser who led his 1994 Senate campaign, headed Romney’s transition team as Massachusetts governor, and chaired both of his presidential campaigns. It was White who encouraged Romney to not release his tax returns, saying that “you never release something that’s five hundred pages long or more till you understand it,” according to The New Republic.

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