WHAT A DIFFERENCE a Tom makes!

Gov. Tom Corbett, in his second year in office, isn't getting the kind of attention at the GOP convention that Gov. Tom Ridge did in his second year in office in 1996.

Corbett heads the state delegation in Tampa as Ridge did at Bob Dole's convention in San Diego.

But Corbett isn't speaking at this convention. Ridge spoke at that one.

In fact, Ridge was on a short-list to be Dole's running mate (Dole ultimately picked Jack Kemp). Corbett? Well, he's among governors scheduled to speak at a Republican Jewish Coalition event in Tampa on Thursday.

And it's not that Ridge was much more popular than Corbett at this point in their incumbencies. Both, in fact, drew the label "one-term Tom."

Ridge had gone along with a legislative pay raise after saying that he wouldn't, and he cut health care to poor people.

Corbett has made similar cuts and embraced big energy as an economic-development partner or, according to Democrats, a campaign sponsor.

Pennsylvania is a big, electoral-vote-rich state that the GOP swears is in play, despite going Democratic in every presidential year since 1988.

Yet 12 other Republican governors or former governors were offered speaking roles in Tampa - including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who gives the keynote address Tuesday night, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Ohio Gov. John Kasich - and Corbett was not.

How come?

Governors from Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Louisiana and New Mexico were invited to speak.

Why not Corbett?

Well, he came late to Romney, in deference to home-state former Sen. Rick Santorum, and didn't endorse Mitt until mid-April, after Santorum left the race.

And, according to press secretary Kevin Harley, Corbett didn't seek a speaking role at the convention and doesn't need one since he has "no national aspirations."

Also, state Republican chairman and national committeeman Rob Gleason says that Corbett is "not a self-promoter," adding that Corbett "always sticks to his knitting and right now that's being governor."

As in governor-not-getting-attention at his party's national convention.

Contact John Baer at baerj@phillynews.com. For his recent columns go to philly.com/JohnBaer. Read his blog at philly.com/BaerGrowls.