It used to be that being invited to speak at your party’s convention was a big deal and a road to political stardom. Think of Barack Obama in 2004, or Mario Cuomo in 1980, at their Democratic conventions. But this time around, the GOP is beating the bushes — so to speak — to get anyone to stand up for the Trump show.
With the convention less than a month away, POLITICO contacted more than 50 prominent governors, senators and House members to gauge their interest in speaking. Only a few said they were open to it, and everyone else said they weren’t planning on it, didn’t want to or weren’t going to Cleveland at all — or simply didn’t respond.
“I am not attending,” said South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, who is overseeing the high-profile congressional Republican investigation into Hillary Clinton’s handling of the attacks on Benghazi. Gowdy, who said he was taking his family to the beach instead, hasn’t gone to conventions in the past and didn’t plan to now.
“I’m not,” said South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford, a former two-term governor. “But hope you have a good Thursday!”
“Don’t know,” said Sean Duffy, a reality-TV-star-turned-Wisconsin congressman. “I haven’t thought about it.”
Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo: “I won’t be there.”
The widespread lack of interest, Republicans say, boils down to one thing: the growing consensus that it’s best to steer clear of Trump.
New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte “is not attending the convention,” said a spokeswoman. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner “is not attending the convention,” his office said. A spokesman for South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham: “He announced back in May he’s not attending.” For South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley: “The governor has not been asked to speak at the convention and has no plans to.” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn: “There are no plans for him to speak.”
Not to worry; there are some folks who are really looking forward to going to Cleveland for the fun. That’s assuming, however, they can get their white robes back from the cleaners and permission from their parole officers.