ST. PAUL, Minn. — Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. will get a speaking slot at the Republican National Convention Thursday night.

The Utah governor will nominate Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin as the vice presidential nominee at 6:30 p.m. CDT, or 5:30 p.m. MDT.

"My friend Sarah Palin has shown her strength and tenacity to stand up for what she believes in, stand up for taxpayers, stand up for real energy independence and stand up for America," Huntsman said in a news release.

While any speaking slot is nice at the national convention, the early Thursday time is a definite downgrade from his original time.

Huntsman was originally scheduled to speak Tuesday night at 8:30 MDT, which would have been just before prime-time coverage began. But the cancellations and schedule changes caused by Hurricane Gustav pushed Huntsman out, and the time was used for President Bush's speech on a live video feed from the White House.

The main speaker Thursday night, of course, is Arizona Sen. John McCain, who is the party's presidential nominee. Other speakers include former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

And for the football fans in the crowd who will be missing the opening of the National Football League season, former Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs will be speaking at the same time his former team is playing the New York Giants.

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