‘Principled’ Republicans Shouldn’t Back Down from Republican Convention

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

The latest narrative pushed by the media is that no one wants to speak at the Republican National Convention.

In a Politico article titled, “Hardly anybody wants to speak at Trump’s convention,” they boasted about contacting “more than 50 prominent Republicans.” Nevermind that most people aren’t exactly clamoring to hear from whomever Politico thinks is “prominent.” Politico decided that most of the 50 didn’t plan to attend or speak. They wrote:

In past conventions, up-and-coming young senators — think Obama, Barack — have used the limelight to raise their profiles. Not so with Republicans this year: Nebraska’s Ben Sasse, who’s said he won’t vote for the real estate mogul, isn’t expected to be at Cleveland. Utah Sen. Mike Lee, an outspoken Trump critic who will be serving on the convention’s powerful Rules Committee, hasn’t been asked to speak, said his spokesman, Conn Carroll.

Of course, the problem is that Politico is right about one thing – Republicans should be taking advantage of the convention’s prominence thanks to Trump’s unconventional campaign.

The AP similarly pronounced, “With few political allies, Trump plans celebrity convention.” They wrote:

While those bold-face names have yet to be confirmed, the fact they’re on Trump’s list is a reminder that many of the Republican Party’s biggest stars aren’t willing to appear on his behalf. The GOP’s two living presidents, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, its most recent presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, and Ohio’s Republican governor, John Kasich, all plan to avoid the four-day event that traditionally serves as a powerful display of party unity heading into the sprint toward Election Day.

Of course, the AP neglected to mention that George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush didn’t speak at the 2012 Republican National Convention either. It should also be noted that the vast majority of voters wouldn’t be watching the convention to see a Bush or a Romney.

At CPAC 2011, there were two or three speakers who declined to speak because of the inclusion of GOProud, a now defunct group of gay conservatives and their allies. As CPAC Director then, I found it odd that people who thought the issue of including this group as one of over 150 participating organizations didn’t want to actually defend their view at the conference. The truth is they didn’t care about defending their view, just pouting in public and private.

Regarding the 2016 Republican National Convention, if some of those who aren’t attending or speaking at the convention on principle really cared about conservative principles, they would jump at the opportunity to speak at what is sure to be the most watched Republican convention ever.  Kudos to all former candidates who show up and speak at the convention. Sorry John Kasich and Jeb Bush, you won’t be missed.

Many convention speeches aren’t even about the nominee. Speakers can deliver a message about the free market, sanctity of life, government corruption, or any number of issues that Democrats and the media consistently misrepresent us on. They can talk to delegates and the media about those issues. Short of a retweet by Katie Perry, they’ll never have a larger and more diverse audience than this year’s Republican convention.

It seems that those who turn down speaking or engaging with people at the Republican convention would rather get articles about them in Politico than actually talk about conservative principles to millions of new Republican voters. They are happy to lap up favorable media coverage and back-slaps from the #NeverTrump crowd in order to advance the media’s silly narrative. If they think the Trump movement isn’t about principles, then go to Cleveland and educate people. Instead, they’d rather pout or make up some excuse like, “I have to wash my hair.”

Republicans already have a tendency to preach to the choir rather than engage with audiences outside their bubble. I’ve spoken on college campuses, defended Ann Coulter on Jezebel.com, stood up for Donald Trump among my #NeverTrump friends, and talked about religion on Vice.com’s Broadly. But now a group of elected Republicans don’t have the courage to speak about their principles at the Republican National Convention? Give me the real courage of Ann Coulter or Milo Yiannopoulos rather than the faux courage of Senators who only speak at friendly conservative events in DC.


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