Which GOP pols will actually attend the convention?
© Getty Images

There are 17 days until the Republican National Convention and for the presumptive nominee Donald TrumpDonald TrumpRonny Jackson, former White House doctor, predicts Biden will resign McCarthy: Pelosi appointing members of Jan. 6 panel who share 'pre-conceived narrative' Kinzinger denounces 'lies and conspiracy theories' while accepting spot on Jan. 6 panel MORE — to use his favorite word — things are not "great."

First of all, the GOP is meeting in Cleveland. (Yes, I'm aware the Cleveland Cavaliers just won the NBA championship, the city's first professional team title in 52 years. But let's get back to politics.)

ADVERTISEMENT

The last time there was a political convention in Cleveland, the year was 1936. The Republicans met there and nominated someone named Alf Landon, the governor of Kansas at the time. Landon went on to win the grand total of two states: Maine and Vermont. He didn't even win his home state.

Trump will also lose Maine and Vermont in November and lose his home state of New York as well.

This Republican convention might very well go down in history as — borrowing a nickname from its host city — the "mistake by the lake." I say that because this convention will be no coronation. No one in the Republican Party (except for Trump delegates) seems to be the least bit excited about crowning the nominee. Some very big names have made a point of telling anybody who asks that they are not going to be there.

It is customary for past nominees to sit in prime spots to be recognized and receive adoring standing ovations. There will be no such occurrences this time.

The most recent nominee, 2012's Mitt Romney, is the vocal leader of the "I can't stand Trump club." Count on him to continue his barrage of criticism, without pause, all through the proceedings.

Romney, by the way, seems to have coattails in his now-home state of Utah. The Beehive State was Trump's very worst state in the primaries. He lost by 50 percentage points. In fact, in the believe-it-or-not category, Utah is considered to be in play in the general election. The last time a Democrat won Utah was in 1964, during the Lyndon Johnson landslide.

2008 nominee John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain on Pelosi, McCarthy fight: 'I think they're all bad' Democrats seek to counter GOP attacks on gas prices Biden nominates Jeff Flake as ambassador to Turkey MORE also won't be at the convention. He says he will be campaigning in Arizona for reelection. It's true that he's in a tough fight, but do you really expect him to show up and cheer the guy who said he's no war hero?

Both President Bushes are no-shows. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will be nowhere in sight. Unlike Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioBipartisan congressional commission urges IOC to postpone, relocate Beijing Games Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill to hold platforms accountable for misinformation during health crises | Website outages hit Olympics, Amazon and major banks Senators introduce bipartisan bill to secure critical groups against hackers MORE (Fla.), another former rival for the nomination, he has not demeaned himself by letting the Trump people know he's available for a speaking slot.

Just a reminder: Cleveland is in the state of Ohio. The governor of this most important swing state is a Republican. His name is John Kasich. Usually the governor of the home state of the convention welcomes the delegates, even if he is from the other party.

No word if Kasich is planning to perform that obligatory role.

Two people whom you can count on being highly visible and definitely in attendance are Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich.

Christie, the massively unpopular governor of New Jersey, has devoted the past few months as chief cheerleader and apologist for Trump. Soon after dropping out of the Republican primary himself, he performed the role of standing behind Trump and nodding at appropriate intervals.

Gingrich, the disgraced former Speaker of the House, self-professed deep thinker and proposer of great ideas, is so desperate to get back into the limelight that he has alerted the world that he is available for the vice presidency.

Christie would like some consideration for that position as well. But most feel he would take a very minor Cabinet post.

The Republican with the most significant title in the party and the chair of the convention — Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanTrump clash ahead: Ron DeSantis positions himself as GOP's future in a direct-mail piece Cutting critical family support won't solve the labor crisis Juan Williams: Trump's GOP descends into farce MORE (Wis.) — seems to be going out of his way to distance himself from the presumptive nominee. He has publicly said that he would not dictate to anyone whom they should cast their vote for, and frequently uses the word "conscience": a not-too-subtle suggestion that not voting for Trump is not objectionable to him.

John Kane, a former chairman of the Republican Party in Maryland, has attended the last four Republican conventions. A proudly independent-minded, thoughtful moderate, Kane will not be going to his party's conclave. When asked why, he calmly said, "Our solutions are found through inclusion, not separation. I think that sums up why I'm not going."

Beyond the Republican convention, the ultimate question will be: Will voters subscribe to the Kane philosophy, or will the narrow-minded, uninformed and too-often-bigoted carry the day in November?

Plotkin is a political analyst, a contributor to the BBC on American politics and a columnist for The Georgetowner. He is a veteran of 16 political conventions and will attend both the Republican and Democratic conventions this year.