UPDATE: Team GOP apparently thought better of letting the suspense go on too long—perhaps in part because at least two people we know began to wonder aloud if the TBA slot was going to be the twofer of Hologram Reagan and Romney re-enacting the pottery scene from Ghost.
Those In The Know ended the suspense shortly before 4 p.m. by confirming to CNN and Fox New that the surprise guest will be Clint Eastwood.
Original Post at 12:07 p.m.: We're going to make this quick(ish) because—despite all the rumors—there has been no actual confirmation that the Republican National Convention will feature a "mystery speaker" during tonight's lineup.
The only thing we know for sure is that the official RNC schedule currently includes a TBA speaker slot before Marco Rubio is set to introduce Mitt Romney tonight. So while the identity of who that person is remains, technically, a mystery, it may be a little much to breathlessly declare that he or she will blow all of our respective minds.
On a conference all with reporters this morning, the most Romney's people would say was this (via Politico): "If there was a mystery speaker, then it wouldn't be a mystery speaker anymore."
At first blush, that rather cryptic remark would suggest that there is indeed a high-profile surprise in the works. Why would a Romney adviser want to build expectations only to let everyone down, after all. But, then again, if the promise of a mystery guest gets a few more people to tune in tonight in advance of Romney's speech, the false hype may be worth tomorrow's letdown.
Our head hurts just thinking about it so, without further ado, a few of the names that have been floated in the past day or so. (Keep in mind that a truly shocking mystery guest would run the risk of overshadowing Romney at his own party.)
"Our source—who spoke on the condition of anonymity—could not confirm if Eastwood is, in fact, the intriguing 'to-be-announced' speaker, but stated unequivocally that the Dirty Harry star will arrive in Florida late on Wednesday or early on Thursday, and will return to southern California on Friday. Eastwood endorsed Romney earlier this month and backed Sen. John McCain's presidential bid in 2008. He also attracted political buzz when he cut a controversial Super Bowl ad for Chrysler earlier this year, which some viewed as a tacit message in favor of President Obama."
Colin Powell, a man who backed Obama in 2008 but hasn't yet weighed in this time around. Business Insider:
"The former Secretary of State could be the perfect guy to lead up to Romney, but his military background and foreign policy credentials could make the conversation deviate from the economy for a second."
We're going to rush ahead a little here to get to the most interesting—and most unlikely to be true—rumors. So quickly, other names that have been floated include Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Joe Lieberman.
OK, now it gets good:
Tim Tebow! The Daily Caller:
"You might call it a Hail Mary. But immediately before the mystery speaker, the convention will feature Olympians lending their support to Romney. What if immediately after, another great athlete with national appeal strode on stage to endorse Romney? Tebow-mania is electric and the son of missionaries would seem to fit in well in the Republican Party. Probably won’t happen, but it is more likely than Sarah Palin being the mystery speaker."
Hologram Ronald Reagan! This rumor likely got started by this satirical article, but nonetheless provided plenty of fun for early guessers. At least until the WSJ went ahead and ruined the party (unless this is subterfuge at its best, of course):
"If Ronald Reagan is to make a posthumous appearance at the Republican National Convention, using the same technology that brought late rapper Tupac Shakur to the stage at the Coachella music festival in April, it’s news to the CEO of the company that created 'Hologram Tupac.'
"'I would enjoy seeing holograms in political discourse,' said John Textor, CEO of Digital Domain Media Group, a visual effects house that has created digital characters for numerous Hollywood movies. 'But that rumor isn’t true.'"
The smart money appears to be on Eastwood. But we've always been a fan of betting the field.