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GOP convention speakers court women’s vote

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South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. (Source: Nikki Haley for Governor) South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. (Source: Nikki Haley for Governor)
New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte. (Source: Sen. Kelly Ayotte) New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte. (Source: Sen. Kelly Ayotte)
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez. (Source: Martinez campaign) New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez. (Source: Martinez campaign)
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Ann Romney will speak about her husband Mitt on Tuesday evening at the convention. Ann Romney will speak about her husband Mitt on Tuesday evening at the convention.
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TAMPA, FL (RNN) - As Republican National Convention activities officially get underway, the party often called the party of old, white men features a serious influx of girl power at the podium.

Women of all stripes command high-profile speaking spots at this year's RNC.

Condoleezza Rice, the first black woman to serve as secretary of state, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, the first female governors of their respective states, will fire up Republicans in prime time.

Martinez is the also the first female Hispanic governor in the U.S. Haley is the youngest sitting governor in the country and the daughter of immigrants.

"I think it says a lot about South Carolina that they elected a 38-year-old Indian-American female...but I also think it says a lot about our country. This is the country of opportunity," Haley said.

Other speaking slots go to New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte - often rumored to have been on Romney's vice presidential short list - Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, the first female AG in the state's history, and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin.

Tuesday night, Ann Romney will tell the country about the man she has called the love of her life since 1969.

Dr. Rebecca Deen, associate professor of political science at the University of Texas at Arlington, said the larger strategy is aimed at creating broad-based appeal among women voters in hopes of drawing them to the polls in November.

"What they're trying to do with this constellation of speakers is, it's the buffet approach. There's something there for everyone," Deen said.

"It's also sends the message the Republican Party is a big tent, it's inclusive of women of all different stripes."

Numbers show Republicans need to expand that tent if they want to unseat President Barack Obama.

According to the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, 56 percent of women voted for Obama and 43 percent for McCain in 2008.

Women also turned out to the polls in higher percentages - 53 percent of the total vote came from women, 47 percent from men.

The GOP hopes to appeal to women through economics and avoid social issues to promote the message that President Obama's economic policies have failed the nation - particularly women. Organizers will hold a briefing on the impact of Obama's economy on women sometime this week.

"Obama's economic policies have failed our entire nation, but women have been disproportionately affected," said Rae Lynne Chornenky, president of the National Federation of Republican Women.

Haley hopes four years later - with a diverse roster representing the party - Americans will notice a GOP that speaks to them.

"I want people to know the Republican Party is changing. We're appealing to more people about business and debt and children and healthcare and more people are moving over to our side, especially minorities," Haley said.

"We've still got some work to do, but what I hope people realize is how far we've come. We've come so far in our country. We see women CEOs and you see minorities that are moving in great places. We don't have the divisions we used to have but that doesn't mean we should stop improving on where we are and how far we want to go."

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