U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, one of the most influential Republicans on the national scene, is making plans to attend the Democratic political convention in Denver next week.
His mission will be to provide the Republican perspective on everything associated with Sen. Barack Obama's official nomination as the Democrats' presidential candidate.
In other words, Kyl will be a GOP spin doctor.
Each party allows space at its convention for representatives of the opposing party to observe the proceedings and to present their views to the media. Kyl's role will be similar to his frequent guest appearances on Sunday morning talk shows, but with more orientation toward Sen. John McCain's candidacy.
"Obviously, we'll comment from a partisan point of view," he told the Tribune on Monday. "We will have a press conference and otherwise be available to the media to comment from our perspective."
As these things go, Kyl will get prime-time play. The senator from Arizona is set to arrive in Denver on Aug. 27 and take up duties as one of the Republicans' chief spokesmen the following day.
The convention's schedule for Aug. 27 features speeches by former President Clinton in addition to speeches by Democratic heavyweights Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana and Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, plus the party's vice presidential nominee.
All of that is subject to change, especially considering that both Bayh and Richardson widely are thought to be on Obama's short list for VP.
Still, the schedule puts Kyl in a prime position to respond to the Democrats' top-tier speakers the following day.
Furthermore, Obama is set to deliver his acceptance speech Aug. 28, giving Kyl the opportunity to counter the Democratic candidate's proposals with McCain's platform.
Kyl, who has been a visible player in McCain's campaign for the past year, is prepared to tailor his remarks no matter where the Democrats steer the discussion, he said. But it's safe to make at least one assumption.
"The big news is going to be the VP. I don't know exactly when (Obama) will make that decision, but coming right after the VP's speech, probably there will be a big focus on that."
If Obama selects from among the three or four most frequently mentioned potential vice presidential choices, Kyl will be able to speak about the choice based on his personal interactions with the nominee.
Meanwhile, Democrat Carolyn Warner, an Arizona superdelegate who will also be at the convention, said she's delighted that Kyl plans to attend.
"It's great," she said. "I'm hoping we can show him what it's like to be a party of hope and a party of the future, looking forward rather than turning back."