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Lobbyists bolting Trump convention early

Lobbyists bolting Trump convention early
© Greg Nash

CLEVELAND — Many of the lobbyists and advocates who came to Cleveland for the Republican National Convention won’t be sticking around to hear Donald TrumpDonald TrumpHead of firms that pushed 'Italygate' theory falsely claimed VA mansion was her home: report Centrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting VA moving to cover gender affirmation surgery through department health care MORE make his acceptance speech.

Lobbyists are out in force at the convention hosting events, meeting with clients and connecting with federal, state and local officials, but many of them have no plans to stay for the event's duration.

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More than a dozen lobbyists told The Hill they would be leaving the convention early. None wanted to be identified on the record.

“We’re dialing back on both of [the conventions], just because clients have dialed back on both of them,” said one Republican strategist who only planned to be at the GOP convention for a day and a half. “I'm getting in and getting out.”

The buzz around Cleveland on Tuesday morning focused on how sparsely attended some of the events were the night before, especially when compared to previous conventions. The official speeches in the convention hall also went beyond the scheduled times, which may have impacted some of the attendance. 

One factor contributing to the lack of activity is the diminished corporate presence in Cleveland. Many major companies decided to withhold sponsorship money and opt out of the proceedings to avoid being associated with the controversial rhetoric of Trump, the GOP's presumptive presidential nominee.

“Fewer regulars came, and they're staying fewer days for the same reason so many members of Congress stayed home: The GOP of [Presidents] Reagan and Bush is facing something between an identity crisis and an outright reinvention," said an established Republican lobbyist leaving Cleveland on Wednesday.

Trump has very few supporters in the lobbying community, which predominately features those who had jobs in previous Republican White Houses.

And lobbyists are not the only ones getting out of dodge before the convention crescendo. One advocate told The Hill that Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Biden struggles to detail post-withdrawal Afghanistan plans White House reiterates opposition to raising gas tax amid infrastructure debate MORE (R-Maine) was on her flight out of Cleveland on Tuesday. 

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) told The Hill that he was only in Cleveland briefly and would be jetting out Tuesday afternoon. Sen. Cory GardnerCory GardnerBiden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program Gardner to lead new GOP super PAC ahead of midterms OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court rules against fast-track of Trump EPA's 'secret science' rule | Bureau of Land Management exodus: Agency lost 87 percent of staff in Trump HQ relocation | GM commits to electric light duty fleet by 2035 MORE (R-Colo.), spotted at the Warehouse Party on Monday night, also said he planned to leave on Tuesday.