The GOP convention in Cleveland this summer is toxic, poisonous, radioactive and lethal to prominent party leaders—past and present—and so they will sit it out. Those who choose to attend Trumpfest 2016 are risking their own political future. What to do? Take a stand against the Trump candidacy or roll the dice and attend?
It speaks volumes that prominent elder statesmen are taking a pass: Former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker, Sen. John McCain (AZ), Sens. Kelly Ayotte (NH) and Mark Kirk (IL) are for one reason or another not attending the convention. Collectively, they can insure the party will be fractured as Donald Trump accepts the nomination.
Baker has staked out very moderate social positions in deep blue Massachusetts and has nothing to gain by attending. He took heat for whisking off to a conference where staunch conservatives were meeting.
McCain, Ayotte, Kirk and others are scared to death of having Trump at the top of the ticket. All three and others are in tough reelection races with the Democrats having a golden opportunity to retake the Senate.
New Hampshire’s Ayotte is trying to split the baby. She says she will not attend the convention, will “support” Trump but won’t “endorse” him. Huh? She is taking a beating from challenger Gov. Maggie Hanson over this and for being onboard Mitch McConnell’s shameful stonewalling of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. (The Shad is in the Boston media market and therefore sees the back and forth from New Hampshire.)
Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson reeks of overconfidence. He trails in the polls against former Sen. Russ Feingold, the Democrat. Johnson is attending the convention and supporting Trump.
Former presidential candidate Sen. Lindsay Graham may have the best approach on whether to attend. He says he will wait and see “how crazy it looks.” Crazy indeed.
Meanwhile, Clinton is letting the Republicans speak for themselves about Trump.