Trump may not be inviting non-endorsers to speak in Cleveland

While we’re still debating whether or not there will be some sort of back channel revolt against Donald Trump in Cleveland next month, those planning on a Trump nomination are left wondering who will be speaking at the big event. Paul Ryan should be an obvious choice since he’s supposed to be the grand marshal for this parade, but what of Trump’s former competitors for the nomination? Tradition dictates that the vanquished generally come to sing the praises of the victor in a sign of unity against the common enemy in November, but the last two standing haven’t really gotten on the Trump Train, have they?

When asked if either John Kasich or Ted Cruz would be addressing the masses, Trump seemed to feel no urgency to offer them a platform if they weren’t going to offer an endorsement. (The Hill)

“If there’s no endorsement, then I would not invite them to speak,” Trump said.

Trump’s comments come as his campaign and the Republican National Committee work to ensure next month’s convention goes as smoothly as possible.

There have been rumblings that displeased delegates will stage a revolt to try to oust the presumptive Republican nominee, but RNC leaders are threatening to withhold speaking slots and warning that attempting to undermine Trump violates party rules, The Times reported.

Trump told the Times his opponents will fail in derailing his nomination.

“You mean to tell me we’re going to get the largest vote in his history of the Republican primaries and now the same people that either didn’t run or get beaten in a landslide are going to try and back-end?” Trump said.

None of this is business as usual for the convention process, but then… we’ve lived to see interesting times. Much like Trump’s primary campaign, the rule book has been tossed out the window since last summer so why should we expect things to change now? It’s hard to blame The Donald for being a bit standoffish on this score. It’s awkward enough to roll out the red carpet for your vanquished foes if they aren’t even endorsing you, but if there are still active efforts underway to have one of them replace you during what’s supposed to be the coronation, why on Earth would you give them a microphone on the main stage?

Since we’re on the topic of this being a non-traditional convention process anyway, perhaps the presumptive candidate needs to be thinking outside the box and getting ready for one more dose of Letting Trump Be Trump. If he relies on the usual cast of GOP party elites who would normally speak at the convention, the list is going to be rather thin in terms of those who have wholeheartedly endorsed him. And if we think back on the primary campaign, that’s exactly the way Trump wanted it. If he would only get a few of them to show up, their speeches might be full of disclaimers about how this may not be the man I’d originally hoped to be nominating, but…

Who needs that? The fact is that nearly 90% of registered Republicans around the country have signaled that they’re ready to vote for The Donald, even if many are on edge about it. Among them, Trump can find any number of wildly enthusiastic supporters who his detractors in the party still dismissively refer to as “the Trumpsters.” There are also some celebrities who have been very much on board with him. So here’s the suggestion: ditch the members of Congress and established party leaders entirely from the lineup of speakers. Fill the slots with rank and file voters (after extensive vetting, of course) who really want to stand up make the case for him. Get some people with solid name recognition from television and the business community. Most of all, make the presentation about how he came at this project from outside the party establishment and by gosh, that’s how he’s going to finish it.

Sure, there’s some risk involved in that route and the media will attempt every angle possible to turn it into a negative, but that was baked into the cake anyway. Better a full-throated endorsement from some unconventional conventioneers than half praise from reluctant party elders.