With the convention less than a month away, POLITICO contacted more than 50 prominent governors, senators, and House members to gauge their interest in speaking. Only a few said they were open to it — and everyone else said they either weren’t planning on it, didn’t want to, weren’t going to Cleveland at all, or simply didn’t respond.
“I am not attending,” said South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, who is overseeing the high-profile congressional Republican investigation into Hillary Clinton’s handling of the attacks on Benghazi. Gowdy, who said he was taking his family to the beach instead, hasn’t gone to conventions in the past and didn’t plan to now. “I’m not,” said South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford, a former two-term governor. “But hope you have a good Thursday!” “Don’t know,” said Sean Duffy, a reality TV star-turned-Wisconsin congressman, “I haven’t thought about it.” Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo: “I won’t be there.”
The widespread lack of interest, Republicans say, boils down to one thing: the growing consensus that it’s best to steer clear of Trump.
“Everyone has to make their own choice, but at this point 70 percent of the American public doesn’t like Donald Trump. That’s as toxic as we’ve seen in American politics,” said Stuart Stevens, a longtime Republican strategist who helped to craft the party’s 2012 convention. “Normally people want to speak at national conventions. It launched Barack Obama’s political career.”