Political convention speaking spots are usually coveted opportunities to launch a career and high-profile chances for parties to showcase their rising stars — just ask then – Sen. Barack Obama.
But at this year’s Republican National Convention, with presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump, many of the Republicans considered to have promising careers are not speaking.
And three years after the GOP autopsy report of the 2012 election declared the party needed to make in-roads with minorities, women and young voters, the high-profile names not on the speaking list also represent some of the most diverse faces in the party.
Since Trump began to run away with the nomination, many top Republicans, including most of the senators in contested re-election races this year, have made clear they have no interest in the convention.
The list of confirmed speakers was released days before the convention kicks off. Speakers include a handful of stars of the party, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, who is also the convention chair. Also speaking are Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, former candidate Ben Carson and fellow former Trump opponent Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Colorado Senate candidate Darryl Glenn, who won a contested GOP primary with the backing of Cruz, will also speak.
But there are a number of GOP politicians who have been confirmed as not speaking. Prominent Hispanic Republicans including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval are all skipping the convention, their staff confirmed to CNN. Both Martinez and Rubio spoke at the convention in 2012, with Rubio getting a prime-time spot that helped elevate his national profile. This time, he will deliver a brief video message, according to staff.
Utah Rep. Mia Love is also skipping the convention, after speaking in 2012 on her way to becoming the first black female Republican in Congress, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. And New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who is in a tough reelection campaign, has said she will campaign in her state instead.
Two South Carolina stars are attending the convention, but will not speak. Sen. Tim Scott will go but not speak, according to his office, and Haley’s spokesman told The Post and Courier she was not asked to speak. Haley was sharply critical of Trump during the primary, and endorsed Rubio.
She alluded to the diversity behind Rubio’s bid at a campaign rally in South Carolina in February, remarking on the diversity onstage of herself, Scott, Rubio and South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy.
“Take a picture of this, because the new group of conservatives that’s taking over America looks like a Benetton commercial,” she said as the quartet waved. None of them will be addressing the convention live.
Rubio’s campaign said the decision was based on his re-election campaign, and that he had original intended to come to Cleveland and perhaps even speak if asked.
Another young senator, Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, has repeatedly gone after Trump and called for an alternative, and his spokesman told CNN instead of going to Cleveland he will “take his kids to watch some dumpster fires across the state, all of which enjoy more popularity than the current frontrunners.”
Tim Miller, a former spokesman for Jeb Bush, the RNC and spokesman for the anti-Trump Our Principles PAC, said he would advise any candidate he considers a rising star to “stay far away. Good week to wash your hair.”
“I’m happy a lot of rising stars aren’t going and sullying their reputation with the Trump stink,” Miller said. “It speaks to Trump’s lack of ability to broaden his support that he can’t even attract many minority Republicans to his convention.”
The limited firepower in the convention speakers comes three years after the Growth and Opportunity Project, known as the RNC autopsy report, that analysed the lessons of the 2012 election loss.
“The Republican Party must focus its efforts to earn new supporters and voters in the following demographic communities: Hispanic, Asian and Pacific Islanders, African Americans, Indian Americans, Native Americans, women, and youth,” the report directed. “This priority needs to be a continual effort that affects every facet of our Party’s activities, including our messaging, strategy, outreach, and budget.”
The report also noted that there was a commitment being made to reaching out to women and young voters.
Trump’s most reliable demographic in polling has been white men, and he has seen extremely high unfavorability ratings among women and minority groups. (CNN)