It’s a rhetorical question. The answer is yes, according to the man himself.
Here he is last Saturday:
The speakers slots at the Republican Convention are totally filled, with a long waiting list of those that want to speak – Wednesday release
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 2, 2016
So Wednesday, July 6th was the day. In fact, there was a speaker announcement that day — a leak to the NYT about one particular speaker, Joni Ernst, who reportedly has been given a slot in primetime. But what about the rest of the slate?
No worries, said Trump that afternoon. Wednesday was a day for letting Crooked Hillary squirm. The full list will be out on Thursday, the 7th:
Convention speaker schedule to be released tomorrow. Let today be devoted to Crooked Hillary and the rigged system under which we live.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 6, 2016
We got some more speaker news on Thursday: Ted Cruz had been asked to deliver remarks and had accepted Trump’s offer. And yet, by the end of business on Thursday, the complete list of speakers still hadn’t emerged. How come?
Under the insane circumstances of the past week, I think you can give Trump a pass for failing to keep his promise. The FBI cleared Hillary on Tuesday morning; that night, the House announced that it would grill Comey about it later in the week; on Wednesday morning, the media was consumed with the Alton Sterling shooting; on Thursday morning, a new media frenzy erupted over the Philando Castile shooting, followed by Comey testifying before the House; and on Thursday night, of course, the five officers in Dallas were murdered. Had Trump interrupted any of that coverage to release his speaker list and crow about how it’s the biggest, best, classiest list of speakers anyone’s ever seen, that I can tell you, he would have been attacked as insensitive and idiotic in diverting attention from Comey’s unflattering testimony about Hillary. Maybe Trump chose to keep the list in his pocket until things calmed down and its release could be properly hyped.
That’s one theory. Another theory: Trump simply forgot about it or had to hold the list back because he’s still having trouble nailing down speakers with the convention less than 10 days away. Look at it this way — if he canceled the list’s release so as not to step on Comey’s big hearing on the Hill on Thursday, why was he still touting the list on Wednesday afternoon? He already knew by then that Comey would be testifying the next day. And if he was worried about appearing “insensitive” and self-absorbed when the media was focused on stories about police treatment of black suspects, why was he ranting about his Star of David tweet on Wednesday night, after the Sterling shooting was already big news? I don’t think anyone would have begrudged him quietly publicizing his speaker’s list this week in the form of a written release, with the Trumpian on-camera hype reserved for next week when people were ready for less somber news. So why didn’t he do that?
Tom Nichols’s answer to the great “where are the convention speakers?” mystery made me laugh but I think Trump’s roster will be stronger than people expect:
They have to finish filming "Match Game 2016" first https://t.co/z573qT7SAF
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) July 9, 2016
Yeah, there’ll be plenty of Trump family members in the mix as well as past-their-prime sports heroes like Bob Knight to talk about what a winning winner Trump is, but if he’s got Ernst and Cruz lined up, he’s doing okay in nailing down young Republican A-listers. Nikki Haley and Tim Scott will both be at the convention too; neither has confirmed that they’ll speak as far as I know, but it’s easy to imagine Reince Priebus and the RNC leaning on them to follow Ernst’s and Cruz’s lead. If anything, for a young pol like Haley with national ambitions, the fact that potential rivals like them are earning some goodwill from the establishment by agreeing to speak will put pressure on her to keep pace by speaking as well. Wouldn’t surprise me if Scott Walker, who’s also now reluctantly on the Trump train, accepts an invite for the same reason. Offhand the only true A-lister whom we know won’t be onstage is Marco Rubio, who’s nervous about hugging Trump publicly with a tough Senate race ahead and Florida tilting towards Hillary. Am I missing anyone else? Ben Sasse is another noteworthy absence among 2020 aspirants but I don’t know that I’d call him a top-flight contender just yet. Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush are both boycotting the convention but they’re has-beens at this point. Is there anyone else who seems to stand a fair chance of being the party’s nominee in 2020 who won’t be there?