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Sen. Thune to speak tonight at GOP convention in Florida

Sen. John Thune is a little bit nervous but ready for his moment in the national spotlight, he said Tuesday.

Thune spent some time at the Republican National Convention podium Tuesday to rehearse the speech he will give tonight. He is scheduled to speak around 7:40 p.m. Central time.

"Yeah, we're looking forward to it; always a little nerve-racking," Thune said in a telephone interview with The Daily Republic. "Kind of like getting ready for a big game."

He said he may feel "a little bit intimidated" as he steps to the podium and prepares to speak before tens of million people who will be watching the prime-time address. Butterflies will be present in his stomach, he admitted.

Arizona Sen. John McCain, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are also slated to take to the podium tonight.

Paul Ryan, the vice-presidential nominee, will wrap up the speeches tonight by accepting his nomination.

Mitt Romney, the GOP candidate who officially won the nomination during a roll-call vote of the convention Tuesday afternoon, is scheduled to accept the presidential nomination Thursday night.

All these plans could change depending on Isaac, the hurricane that was coming ashore in Louisiana on Tuesday night that may be downgraded to a tropical storm.

It forced the GOP to cancel the opening night of the convention Monday and squeeze four days of events and speeches into three.

"Everybody is kind of watching what is happening in Louisiana, so it is part of the discussion," Thune said. "It had a big bearing on the first couple of days here. Things are back on schedule again, people are monitoring what will happen. We're looking forward to it and hoping things will remain on schedule."

Thune was planning to speak for eight to 10 minutes, but said that has been reduced to seven to eight minutes. "But then I read fast," he said. "I thought it read fine."

Thune, 51, said he will speak on the "impact of Obama policies on rural areas, farmers, ranchers and small business." He said he will also include some "bio stuff, a little bit of family history" in his speech. "It's coming together pretty well," Thune said. "I did the first draft ... it is a collaborative process." He said Romney's campaign staff goes over the speeches.

Thune will also deliver the keynote address at an agriculture luncheon today.

He is in Tampa with his wife Kimberley and his oldest daughter Brittany, who is working with the national Republican Party. Thune said some of his staff is there as well.

He is also a member of the South Dakota delegation, which cast all 28 of its votes Tuesday for Romney. Thune was elected as a Romney delegate in the June 5 primary election and cast the votes for South Dakota on Tuesday.

This is Thune's fourth convention. He attended GOP gatherings in 2000, 2004 and 2012.

"They're always fun," Thune said. "It's not without its hassle trying to get places, trying to get across town. It is really hard to pack it all in.

"It's also very exciting, a lot of energy. People are pretty fired up."