By Sam Youngman
POWELL, Ohio (Reuters) - Republican officials shuffled the speaking lineup at their convention in Tampa next week to ensure that presidential candidate Mitt Romney's wife Ann will reach a prime-time television audience when she speaks to the gathering.
Ann Romney will now speak on Tuesday night after it became clear that television networks were not planning to show her Monday-night address before a prime-time audience.
Romney's wife has proved to be one of his most popular assets in his run for the White House against President Barack Obama, helping to humanize a candidate who has consistently been criticized as out of touch.
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez was originally scheduled to speak on Tuesday night in the slot now given to Ann Romney, but officials said her speech has been put back until Wednesday.
Officials in Tampa said that U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida will not be moved to another slot, one outside of prime time, as some had said.
Rubio had offered his speaking slot to Ann Romney.
"Senator Rubio was incredibly gracious to offer his speaking slot to Mrs. Romney, and we thank him for his kind offer," Matt Rhoades, Romney's campaign manager, said. "However, he will remain the last speaker in prime time on Thursday night before Governor Romney accepts the nomination," he said.
Romney is scheduled to arrive in Tampa on Thursday and formally accept the Republican nomination that night to run against Obama on Nov 6.
(Editing by Alistair Bell and Philip Barbara)