The Republican National Committee made the announcement about Olens and four other convention speakers on Wednesday. The other speakers announced are Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi; Texas Republican U.S. Senate Nominee Ted Cruz; and Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuño, and they join several previously announced names.
“I am excited to speak at the Republican Convention with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi,” Olens said. “We look forward to a Romney administration working with State Attorneys General, upholding the principle of federalism.”
Olens said he did not ask to speak at the convention and is “humbled by the honor.” It’s not yet known what day or time he will speak, how long his address will last, or even the subject, though the health care law that the U.S. Supreme Court partially upheld in late June is a likely topic.
He is an ardent supporter of Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. The party will nominate its presidential candidate in Tampa.
Dr. Kerwin Swint, a Kennesaw State University professor, said the speaking slot is “a pretty big deal.”
“Olens has turned some heads in the Republican Party,” Swint said. “He can be relied upon for ideas, for strategy, and it helps the Georgia GOP get in the limelight. It’s great for him personally and for the state party.”
Convention speeches usually last 15 to 20 minutes. Although network television coverage of conventions has been drastically cut back, if Olens’ speech is during prime time, “that would certainly magnify his role,” Swint said.
“(The national media) will profile opposition to Obamacare pretty significantly, so there’s a chance his speech may be of some interest,” Swint said.
Olens is well-known for Georgia’s opposition to the federal health care mandate, and he was with Romney on the day the Supreme Court decision was announced.
Joe Dendy, chairman of the Cobb GOP and one of Georgia’s delegates to the Tampa convention, said that although Olens and Romney have been friends for a long time, Olens “earned the spot on the podium.”
“I’m real proud of him, and proud of the fact that someone from Cobb is going to be up there,” Dendy said. After doing some research, Dendy said the last Georgian to speak at a Republican National Convention was apparently conservative Democrat Zell Miller, who addressed GOP delegates in 2004, when President George W. Bush was nominated to seek re-election.
Chuck Clay, a Marietta attorney and political advisor, said Olens’ speaking gig “is about as high an honor as you can be accorded by the soon-to-be presidential team.”
“He’s been placed amongst the most special of the most special,” Clay said. “I’m very happy for him. He’s earned it.”
As for the other speakers announced Wednesday, Wisconsin’s Walker successfully fended off a Democratic-led effort to recall him earlier this year. Bondi is Florida’s first female attorney general. Fortuño is Puerto Rico’s first Republican elected governor since 1969, and was the territory’s first Republican representative elected to Congress. Cruz is a former Texas solicitor general.
Before his election in 2010 as Georgia’s attorney general, Olens was Cobb’s commission chairman for eight years. He and his wife, Lisa, live in east Cobb.