Gov. Janet Napolitano on Tuesday was given a coveted prime-time speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention this month in Boston.
Napolitano said she will talk about health care and how the policies advocated by presumed Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., will help average Americans. Her selection as a prime-time speaker also highlights the importance of Arizona and its 10 electoral votes in the November general election, she said.
“They are focused on working families. They are focused on the middle class,” Napolitano said of Kerry and his vice presidential running mate, Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C. “We are viewed as a battleground state and we are viewed as a rapidly changing state. In the national picture for both parties, Arizona is considered very important in this election.”
The Democratic National Convention, where Kerry officially will be nominated, runs July 26-29. Napolitano will speak July 27. Other speakers that evening will be Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Teresa Heinz Kerry, wife of the nominee, according to the speaking order released Tuesday by the Democratic National Convention Committee.
The only other Democratic governor with a prime-time speaking spot is Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M. Edwards will speak July 28, and Kerry will accept the nomination July 29.
The opening night of the convention will feature former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore. Ron Reagan, son of the late Republican president, will speak July 27 about the importance of stem cell research.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., will appear at the convention July 26 as part of a segment featuring all the women senators, but she is not expected to speak, convention officials said.
Napolitano said she does not yet know details like how long she will be able to speak. She did not lobby for the speaking spot, she added.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., will deliver a prime-time speech at the Republican National Convention, which begins in late August in New York.
“It shows the value they put on Arizona,” Napolitano said of the selections of her and McCain as prime-time convention speakers. “It's going to be an important state for electing the next president of the United States.”
McCain and Napolitano are being showcased by their parties for their appeal to registered independents and moderate swing voters likely to sway the election.
In 2002, Napolitano became the first Democratic governor elected in Arizona in two decades. Since taking office she has not proposed any general tax increase. In her earlier job as the state's attorney general she took a tough-on-crime approach and helped lead the effort to quickly draft a new death penalty statute when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the state's law in 2002.
Danny Diaz, regional spokesman for the campaign of Republican President Bush, said that while Napolitano's record is one that Kerry and Edwards ticket would like to convey, it is their own liberal voting history at issue in the election.
“The Kerry-Edwards ticket is going to have a difficult time crafting a message that will resonate with Arizona voters,” Diaz said. “You have the most liberal ticket in Democratic presidential history that in many cases opposes the views of most Arizona voters. They are definitely trying to project an image that is not congruent with their voting histories.”
- The Associated Press contributed to this report.