Republican Convention: Marco Rubio Joins Growing List of High-Profile Republicans Not Attending

The Republican Convention will be short another key GOP member when it kicks off on July 18. Senator Marco Rubio has announced that he will not be attending, according to the LA Times. The official reason given is that Rubio wants to focus on his re-election, but given the growing list of Republicans not attending the Convention, it would seem that this urgent need to campaign is a convenient excuse.

Rubio had been planning to attend the Republican Convention in Ohio, and he even offered to be a speaker, according to The New York Times, but he’s had an abrupt change of plans. Rubio’s spokesperson claims that the change is because of his recent decision to run for re-election, and his late start meeting with voters, but given that Conventions are usually a shining moment for key figures in the party, if this were a normal year, skipping would be risky.

The sheer number of people that are not going to Ohio prompted The Washington Post to put together a video compilation of some of the best excuses Republicans are giving for skipping the Convention. Some highlights include Sen. Jeff Flake’s “I’ve got to mow my lawn” excuse, and Gov. Larry Hogan’s “I don’t even want to be involved. It’s a mess. I hate the whole thing.”

While the Republican party seems to have moved past the discussion of a possible overthrow of Presidential nominee Donald Trump, a large number of party members simply refuse to put their support behind him. Some lifelong party members, who have always attended the convention, have indicated that they will not be heading to Cleveland. A few have even taken the unusual step of renouncing their seats. Indiana delegate Josh Claybourn announced on his blog that he was resigning his position, saying, “I could not in good conscience attend a coronation and celebration of Donald Trump.”

Another bad sign for the Republican Convention is that the host state of Ohio’s two top-ranking party members, Gov. John Kasich and Senator Rob Portman, have not announced if they will be attending. While Trump has done his best to alienate a wide array of party members, he does claim that he wants party unity, and he would like the support of the Republican leadership. With his relationship with Paul Ryan still on thin ice, and his recent attacks on the head of the Republican Governors Association, Susana Martinez, this could be a very uncomfortable Convention all around.

One group whose absence at the Convention could hurt Donald Trump is the Washington lobbyists. According to The Wall Street Journal, Washington lobbyists usually act like “party elders” at Conventions, helping to run the events and make sure things run smoothly. But Trump has spent much of the last year attacking these groups which could now backfire. Lobbyists raised approximately $17 million for Mitt Romney in 2012. But, that is not the only money that Trump could wind up losing from donors, according to the Journal:

“Lobbyist support is at least as much about fundraising as it is about spreading the word. They are connected to a wide range of corporate clients who both have deep pockets and carry plenty of influence.”

In a somewhat surprising move, The Boston Globe is reporting that Ted Cruz announced today that Trump asked him to speak at the Convention, and Cruz replied that he would be happy to do so. Cruz has not yet publicly endorsed Donald Trump, and the party nominee had previously said he would be trying to stop anyone who did not endorse him from speaking.

With the full list of speakers at the Republican Convention expected to be released soon, and Donald Trump announcing his running mate before the Convention begins, only time will tell if he can get the pendulum swinging back in his direction in enough time to make a difference in the election.

[Photo by Michael Ciaglo-Pool/Getty Images]