Guess who’s not coming to Cleveland? The answer to that question regarding next week’s Republican National Convention — where Donald J. Trump is expected to be officially nominated as the party’s standard bearer — is a lot more interesting than the question, “so, who is coming?”
The latest “thanks no thanks” response comes from Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, who heads the New York City congregation where Ivanka Trump and her husband worship. He emailed The New York Times to explain that he was only invited to deliver the opening prayer, not give a speech. However, once word got out, a backlash ensued that caused him to rethink the invitation and ultimately back out.
“The whole matter turned from rabbinic to political, something which was never intended. In the interest of bringing our community together, I have asked to be relieved of my commitment to deliver the invocation.”
Just 24 hours earlier, Tim Tebow — the Heisman Trophy-winning, fervently Christian former pro football player — posted a video to Instagram to correct a report in The Times that said he’d be speaking next week. Nope.
Also sending their regrets: Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, and Gov. John Kasich. The two leading Republicans in the state where the convention is being held will appear in the Quicken Loans Arena but won’t speak. Kasich announced that although he won’t speak in Cleveland, he will go to Cincinnati to speak at the annual NAACP convention, which Trump has decided to skip. Rival Hillary Clinton will address the NAACP Monday. Trump will be the first presidential contender to turn down the organization in a decade.
What about Sarah Palin? Don King? Tom Brady? Trump previously mentioned he’d invite each of those big names. But it appears not one received a golden ticket.
This is not to imply the Republicans will have no one at the podium other than Trump. Out billionaire Peter Thiel — who’s publicly tangled with gay publisher Nick Denton of Gawker — is scheduled to speak on behalf of big business, according to The Times. Many will be watching to see what Thiel says about the GOP platform which opposes LGBTQ rights.
Trump’s bitter rival, Ted Cruz, is scheduled to speak, as is former vice presidential nominee and current House Speaker, Paul Ryan and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who tangled with CNN’s out anchor Anderson Cooper a month ago in Orlando.
And then there are the “whatever happened to” B-list names, like Rudy Giuliani, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Mike Huckabee. They’ll give speeches, as will Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Chris Cox of the National Rifle Association, former college hoops coach Bobby Knight and General Hospital star Anthony Sabato, Jr.
Set your DVRs now!