comscore Large number of GOP senators skipping Trump’s convention
Top News

Large number of GOP senators skipping Trump’s convention

Honolulu Star-Advertiser logo
Unlimited access to premium stories for as low as $12.95 /mo.
Get It Now

    Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, A large number of GOP senators are skipping next week’s convention in Cleveland, citing a range of prior commitments, from fly-fishing to lawn-mowing.

WASHINGTON >> Sen. Steve Daines of Montana will be fly-fishing with his wife.

Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona said he has to mow his lawn (yes, he has one even in Arizona).

Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska will be traveling her state by bush plane.

And Sen. John McCain of Arizona will be visiting the Grand Canyon, and joked that his friend Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina would be coming along and might even fall in (just kidding, an aide later clarified).

All are among the GOP senators who will be skipping next week’s convention in Cleveland where Donald Trump will claim the Republican Party presidential nomination.

A majority of Republican senators do plan to attend, and it’s not unusual for lawmakers to skip their party’s convention, especially if they’re up for re-election and need to spend time campaigning.

But the level of rank-and-file congressional defections from this year’s Republican convention is unusually high. Perhaps that’s unsurprising, given the GOP establishment’s well-documented discomfort with the man who stands on the cusp of becoming their presidential standard-bearer. But in the halls of the Capitol this week, some senators seemed to visibly squirm when asked about their convention plans.

Sen. John Thune of North Dakota, a member of the party leadership, gave a lengthy series of responses to questions earlier this week that ultimately left his plans unclear.

“I think it’s going to be a different and unique convention experience. You know I’ve been to a number of them in the past, and this year is different, and we’ll see how it goes,” Thune said. “For most people they go because it’s the Republican convention, and it’s our party’s effort in a presidential election year to talk about what we’re for and what we’re about. So that will go on.”

The next day, Thune said he was still “firming up” his plans.

Confronted for months with uncomfortable questions about Trump, some senators can still seem aggrieved to get asked about the presumptive nominee, and uncomfortable giving an answer. But at this late date, just days from when the convention will start on Monday, nearly all have at least decided whether or not they’re going to Cleveland.

Nearly all, but not quite all.

“I’m not sure yet,” Idaho Sen. Jim Risch said Wednesday, adding there are “other things going on and I’ve got to weigh where I can do the most good.”

Of the Senate also-rans in the White House chase, only Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas will attend the convention and deliver a speech. Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Graham are skipping the event.

For the nearly two dozen GOP senators up for re-election this year, the considerations are particularly sensitive, and that’s especially true for the handful of vulnerable Republican senators in swing states. They must weigh sharing a convention hall with a nominee whose comments have offended women, minorities and others who can decide general elections. There are also concerns that given the “Never Trump” sentiments still nursed by some delegates, the convention could go off the rails and turn into a chaotic spectacle.

But few senators were interested in wading into such considerations on the record.

“No,” Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri said tersely when asked if he was staying away from the convention out of a desire to distance himself from Trump.

Murkowski said she had only a month to visit the remotest areas of Alaska by plane before her Aug. 16 primary.

“For me this was an easy choice” and “nothing to do” with Trump, Murkowski said.

Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, one of the most vulnerable members, said he could not go to Cleveland because “I’ve got to spend as much time in Wisconsin as possible.”

As for his views on Trump, Johnson said: “I support all of the areas of agreement … I’m supporting him. Let’s put it this way, I will not vote for Hillary Clinton.”

Even Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, a vulnerable senator whose state is playing host to the convention, said he will only be dropping into the convention hall from time to time, but not delivering a speech or staying to watch speeches from others.

Instead he’ll be spending his time on his own campaign events in and around Cleveland, including building a Habitat for Humanity home and holding a kayaking charity fundraiser, “Paddling with Patriots on the Cuyahoga River.”

“I’m not going to have much time to listen to ‘em because I’ll be out and about,” Portman said of the convention speakers.


Associated Press writer Matthew Daly contributed to this report.

Comments (24)

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines.

Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.

Leave a Reply

  • Democrats and Americans everywhere have to get it that the Republicans created this scenario and we all have to stand back and let the convention play out. After their convention is over and Trumps’ nomination is set in stone, we can attack on all fronts. It’s time for America to unify behind real Americans! Those who have held Americans back must be held accountable and this is that time!

    • That’s exactly right. The rebubs created Trump. Their constituents found their performance to be non-existent which pushed them to look elsewhere. Lazy people only went to the Hill to collect a paycheck. Trump came along and shook up the party and now they’re running for cover. Bunch of sad sacks.

    • Entrkn, fully agree with your post that following the GOP National Convention and Mr. Trump is confirmed as the Candidate for U.S. President, we can attack on all fronts to guarantee that the DNC candidate Ms Hillary will never become President of the United States. That way, we can hold accountable the Hawaii born President Obama and the Democrats who made America lose its credibility and trust throughout the World and especially in the United States. Those GOP Senators not attending the GOP National Convention are the very ones who joined the Dem’s in the Senate and know they are in trouble.

  • Republican senators are now aware of the fact that the poisonous Trump nomination will almost certainly cause the Senate to switch to Democratic control. I can’t really blame them for avoiding any possibility of being connected with a racist, bigoted, xenophobic buffoon.

    I very much appreciate all of Mr. Trump’s fellow racists and imbeciles supporting his candidacy. It’s just an amazing gift to Democrats.

    • Democratic Senators are now aware of the fact that the toxicity of Hillary will almost certainly keep the Senate and House firmly in control of the Republicans. I can’t blame them for avoiding any possibility of being seen in the same room with Zika Hilliary.
      I very much appreciate all of Mr. Bill Clinton’s fellow insider rapists and imbeciles for supporting her candidacy. She is an amazing gift to the Republicans.
      BTW, what’s in your wallet. The old hag said send money, not comments. She said you haven’t sent one thin dime.

      • Still not a reason to vote for Trump with all of his problems.

        And the high level of senate defections from the convention suggest you aren’t right about her toxicity.

        You loathe Hillary, but you have no problems voting for a candidate who for decades, openly attacked the Constitution.

        If you loved America, which you clearly do not, you’d be voting Johnson.

        • Johnson is a Libertarian, something the Republican party has almost turned into. But, he is more extreme. Libertarians believe in no government except when absolutely necessary. They want to eliminate taxes and have us pay the full cost when services are rendered. That means most of us could not afford to call the police of fire departments, and it would certainly give us pause before doing so.

        • JustBobF, go read about what Gary believes in.

          The GOP is so far from the Libertarians that some of the biggest detractors of the GOP are Libertarians.

  • They can run but they can’t hide, because the grass in their front yard isn’t REALLY tall enough to crouch down in — even though that’s their excuse. Besides, they all hire that job out to Hispanics anyway.

    • SnotDays, that was a very racist thing to suggest. You should take that back and eat it. Disgraceful. What were you thinking? What were you inferring?

        • I don’t believe those numbers; but, if they were true, it would only show what a sad state our country is in, as far as tolerance, or lack thereof, is. Trump is the most racist candidate to inflict most of the world since Adolf Hitler. He should lose by more than George McGovern.

          That anyone supports him only shows how Germany should have elected Hitler. We look back and wonder why? Now, we know. It is happening here, too.

        • JustBobF, look at lespark. He loathes Hillary, but is backing a candidate who openly attacked for decades many of the civil liberties within the Constitution.

          Trump voters do not care about the Constitution. Or rule of law. It’s hilarious to watch them bash Hillary for being above the law (which she thinks she is), but at the same time back a guy who openly wants to repeal many of the amendments and civil liberties we cherish.

          People who back Trump want to give Trump the torch to burn the Constitution

        • Choyd, for our understanding, will Mr. Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for U.S. President present his list of names he will select from for Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court?

        • kuroiwaj, no idea. But he’s still better than what Senator Sasse has called less entertaining than a dumpster fire.

          Thing is, backing Trump because you dislike Hillary makes no sense because virtually every criticism of Hillary applies to Trump and then some. Trump admitted he takes part in the political corruption by buying off politicians. If you have a problem with Hillary’s corruptness, how can you even remotely back a guy who admitted on camera he’s fully a part of it?

          You’re free to dislike Hillary. Many of us do. But don’t pretend to dislike Hillary for their lack of judgement, honesty and transparency and back Trump when those are just, if not more, applicable to Trump.

          This is like being against a small ponzi scheme runner, but thinking that Madoff was an okay guy. No, the are BOTH bad and you shouldn’t be backing one terrible choice over the worse one when there is actually a decent third party option. If you are tired of not having competition for sanity and honesty between the two parties, then you have to do something about breaking that system.

          Loathe Her Corrupt Highness? Good. Can’t stand Mr. Burn The Constitution? Better.

          Vote Johnson/Weld.

        • Choyd, Mr. Trump was open and honest in saying he was a player of influence with politicians for years. Ms Hillary has never believed any truth or have uttered a true statement, period.

        • kuroiwaj, and your point is?

          I just made an argument showing why you cannot criticize Clinton for corruption and then back Trump when the same arguments apply to him and THAT WAS YOUR RESPONSE?

          Are you trying to add to the body of evidence that shows this place has some of the lowest IQ scoring people in the state?

          Rejecting Clinton on lack of transparency, corruption and bad judgement and then backing Trump is ridiculously hypocritical.

        • kuroiwaj, I’ve noticed something with your crowd.

          You have zero substance. None. Not even remotely measurably. Your group cannot actually explain why anyone should vote for Trump on Trump’s own reasons. The only argument given is that Hillary is bad. But that does not equate to why Trump is any better. And when given arguments against Trump, no one in your crowd can actually address them. They only respond with whining about “But Obama..” or “But Clinton…” There is a virtual complete lack of any rebuttal as to why the reasons not to vote Trump aren’t valid. Functionally, your crowd acts like a bunch of Creationists, trying to argue that their position is right by default because evolution is (allegedly) wrong. That of course does not actually mean you are right, it just means you are trying to discredit the other choice while deliberately ignoring that your choice is bad or worse.

          When I bring up a third party as to why not to vote for Trump, your crowd’s arguments fall apart. With no foil of Clinton, the Trumpers here have nothing at all to stand on. They CANNOT make a single argument citing a single reason why someone should vote for Trump on Trump’s own merits. That is a sign of an unbelievably weak candidate and a very poorly educated fan club.

        • Choyd, a 3rd Party must get to at least 15% in the major Presidential polls. At this time none of the 3rd Party candidates make it to the cream.

      • You Clintonians amuse me. You should be winning this election by a landslide. You had a hard time putting down Geritol Sanders and now a candidate who nobody took serious. Your’s is the Party of Obama, Clinton, Reed, Pelosi, Mc Auliffe. You have more money, more people, Wall Street, Special interests, super Pacs. Something tells me you are your worst enemy.

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Be the first to know
Get web push notifications from Star-Advertiser when the next breaking story happens — it's FREE! You just need a supported web browser.
Subscribe for this feature

Scroll Up