GOP convention speaker list short on candlepower?

Donald Trump promised to bring showbiz to the Republican convention, which kicks off on Monday in Cleveland. The partial speaker list released this morning appears somewhat … underwhelming. The name “Trump” appears five times, but names like Bobby Knight, Tom Brady, and even Sarah Palin are nowhere to be seen. Even the Duck Dynasty team that vocally backed Trump are nowhere to be seen, as Molly Ball pointed out on Twitter.

Instead, the RNC touts the list as “Veterans, Political Outsiders, Faith Leaders, Trump Family Members Lead Non-Conventional Speakers Line-Up Emphasizing Real World Experience.” Yeah, that’ll keep people up until 11 pm on weeknights.

The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker calls this a “star-power disparity“:

When Democrats gather for their national convention in Philadelphia, the list of speakers praising Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy is expected to feature the president, the vice president, the first lady, a former president and a galaxy of well-known political luminaries.

But when the Republican convention opens next week in Cleveland, presumptive nominee Donald Trump will showcase an assortment of family members, defeated primary opponents and politicians whose names barely register with the general public. Many of the GOP’s past, current and future leaders are staying away from the spotlights at the Quicken Loans Arena.

The star-power disparity between the conventions speaks volumes about the state of the two parties — one is united and marching together toward what it hopes will be its fifth win of the past seven presidential elections, while the other remains divided and still not fully accepting its new standard bearer.

Rucker also notes that the past and future GOP appears to be mainly RSVPing in the negatory. None of the former presidents and nominees will be there except Bob Dole, and the Republican bench is benching itself:

What about the diverse constellation of stars oft-promoted by the GOP in the six years since they swept into office, including South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.)? You won’t see them speaking in Cleveland, either.

At least Rubio has a good excuse. He did plan on speaking at the convention — and in fact had announced that he would — but decided to jump in at the last minute to run for another Senate term with the blessings of Florida Republicans. He has a lot of organizing to do in a very short period of time. As for the rest of the GOP’s future, it looks like they’re keeping a low profile for other reasons.

So what happened to all of Donald Trump’s entertainment-business friends? Perhaps they’ll be announced later for better public-relations splashes leading up to the convention. It’s difficult to imagine, for instance, that Palin won’t speak on Trump’s behalf next week at such a high-profile event, since she’s been hard-sell campaigning for him for weeks. She wouldn’t pass up a chance to stick a thumb in the eye of Republican leadership at their quadrennial celebration.

But one would have expected at least a couple of high-profile entertainers to be on the initial list, given Trump’s bragging about his show-business skills. The biggest star on the list (and really, the only one) is Antonio Sabato Jr, best known in soap operas and reality-TV shows. No offense to Antonio, but Hillary has entertainers like Katy Perry and Christina Aguilera out on the stump for her already, and Democrats are already planning on a four-night entertainment extravaganza. If Trump’s got a few A-listers up his sleeve, he’d better start showing them off ASAP.

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John Sexton 10:00 PM on June 02, 2023