President Donald Trump’s campaign often touts the strength of his support from the Republican Party, but, similar to 2016, many of the party’s biggest household names won’t be involved in his formal nominating convention this week.
Nearly one-third of the scheduled speakers at the Republican National Convention are either Trump’s family members or people who work for him. While conventions traditionally feature former presidents, former nominees and candidates running in competitive down-ballot races, it’s the MyPillow founder and a couple who pointed guns at protesters who are making headlines for their scheduled appearances at this year’s RNC.
Here are some of the big names you won’t be seeing this week.
George W. Bush
Neither George W. Bush nor any of his family members will appear at the RNC. The former Republican president and his late father, former President George H.W. Bush, famously sat out the 2016 convention, ending decades of a Bush family presence at the RNC. As he refused to do during Trump’s first campaign, Bush has not made an endorsement in this election. But he’s facing some pressure to endorse former Vice President Joe Biden after hundreds of officials from his administration declared their support for the Democratic nominee.
Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, the Republican Party’s nominee in 2012, is another no-show. Romney, one of the most vocal Trump opponents in the GOP, did not attend in 2016 either but hasn’t endorsed any other candidate for president. The former Massachusetts governor was the lone Republican to vote in favor of convicting Trump during the Senate’s impeachment trial earlier this year.
John McCain’s family
The family of the late Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the party’s nominee in 2008, won’t be there either. McCain, who died in 2018, wasn’t there in 2016 either and cast the deciding vote against Trump’s effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2017. The New York Times reports that his widow, Cindy McCain, is “almost certain” to support Biden. His talk show host daughter, Meghan McCain, has said it “shouldn’t take a rocket scientist” to figure out who she’s voting for and praised Biden for the support he offered her when her father died.
You won’t see Dick Cheney, who served eight years as George W. Bush’s vice president, at this year’s RNC, nor will you see Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, his daughter and the House’s highest-ranking GOP woman. Though she strongly supported Trump during his impeachment trial, the president’s allies have recently bashed her for not supporting him enough and called on her to step down from her House leadership position.
Former Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who served as House speaker from 2015 to 2019, won’t participate in the convention this year. Ryan, who was Romney’s running mate in 2012, spoke in support of Trump at the 2016 convention, arguing in his remarks that a divided GOP was better than “politically correct” Democrats in the executive office. He had little to say about Trump during the president’s first two years as president but has become a more vocal critic of him since leaving office last year.
Colin Powell, George W. Bush’s secretary of state from 2001 to 2005, has declared his support for Biden and will not speak at the convention. Powell, who worked in four presidential administrations, supported former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over Trump in 2016 and said in June that he “cannot in any way” support Trump this time either. Biden, however, is closely aligned with him “on a social matter and on a political matter,” Powell said.
Former House Speaker John Boehner would “rather set himself on fire than get involved in the election,” a spokesperson said earlier this month, so it should be no surprise that the former Ohio lawmaker won’t be speaking at the RNC this year. Though he endorsed Trump in 2016, he reeled in his support once the president took office. “There is no Republican Party. There’s a Trump Party,” he said in 2018.
Rep. Ted Cruz of Texas, who ran against Trump for the 2016 nomination, will be absent from the convention this year, too. In one of the more memorable moments from the 2016 RNC, the audience booed Cruz during his speech for not offering his endorsement to Trump, who had insulted Cruz’s wife and suggested Cruz’s father helped assassinate President John F. Kennedy. He’s since been a consistent supporter of Trump’s policies but has fought to elect some candidates whom Trump opposed.
Sen. Marco Rubio, another Republican who fought Trump for the 2016 nomination, won’t be involved in this year’s RNC. Last time, he backed out from his planned appearance and instead submitted pretaped remarks. Like Cruz, the Florida senator has gone from sharply criticizing Trump’s qualifications during the 2016 campaign to largely praising him.
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