Close friends of John McCain to speak before Cindy McCain on the big stage.

Session will kick off around 6:50 pm ET with the official nomination of Gov. Palin for vice president. Major speakers to follow:

In the 8 pm ET hour: Gov. Pawlenty, Sen. Martinez, Bill Frist.

In the 9 pm ET hour: Sen. Brownback, Sen. Graham

Starting at 9:30 pm ET: Segment focused on McCains, with Ridge and Cindy McCain.

10 pm ET: Intro video of McCain, McCain’s nomination speech.

The night’s theme: “Country First: Peace.”

And/but: The Republicans are hoping that the start of the football season Thursday night doesn’t complicate the convention’s climax.

Legendary Redskins coach Joe Gibbs added to the schedule, shortly before 9 pm ET.

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