Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump is at last turning to wooing party leaders to his side in the coming fight against Hillary Clinton. But after a bruising primary, Party leaders are worried about unity due to the large blocks of empty seats expected as #NeverTrump supporters vow to skip this year’s nominating convention in July.
Already a large number of high-profile governors, senators, past presidents and presidential candidates have announced they aren’t likely to attend the big event in Cleveland, Ohio, causing party leaders to worry that the Party may look unsupportive of its own nominee as TV cameras glide over the many empty seats that would have otherwise been filled by these party bigwigs.
Some may argue Donald Trump, who ran as an outsider, doesn’t need the support of Party officials and longtime Washington insiders, but GOP officials worry about the appearance on TV which might cause voters at home to feel Trump doesn’t even have the support of his own party.
A recent report by Fox News revealed a long list of Republicans who have already announced they aren’t attending the big event. The list includes every living Republican president and former nominee but one. 1996 GOP nominee Bob Dole has announced he is headed to Cleveland, but perhaps only for a quick appearance in order to attend a scheduled luncheon.
Until recently, Trump campaigned against the party establishment making a major point of his outsider status. He repeatedly attacked Washington insiders in general and used the taunt to paint his former opponents for the nomination as insider toadies. But even as his opponents began dropping out of the race, a Trump adviser was heard insisting Trump was “playing a part” on the campaign trail and would “become more presidential” as the convention neared, hinting that the real estate mogul would soon begin to reach out to the establishment for their support as he locks up the delegates needed for the nomination.
Indeed, early in May just before he finally gained the requisite number of delegates, The New York Times reported that Trump was “quietly reaching out” to the GOP establishment.
In fact, one prominent #NeverTrumper recently reported Trump reached out to him in an effort to quell the Never Trump movement and bring them to his side for November.
What success Trump will have transitioning from the perennial outsider to leader of insiders and if this transition will be complete before the convention remains to be seen. Whatever the case, it is clear that some very high-profile members of the party are not on board and will not be attending the big shindig in Cleveland.
According to GovTrack, the growing list of those high-profile Republicans who aren’t attending includes former Presidents George H.W and George W. Bush, recent presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Lindsey Graham as well as former GOP nominee Mitt Romney, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead, and Senators John McCain (AZ), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Mark Kirk (IL), Jerry Moran (KA), Kelly Ayotte (NH), Ron Johnson (WS), Roy Blunt (MO), and Jeff Flake (AZ).
In addition to these officials, their staffers will also be missing at the convention leaving large blocks of seats empty.
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