Trump rivals divided over convention

Getty Images

With a little more than two weeks before the GOP convention, Donald Trump’s former primary foes are far from presenting a unified front around their party’s nominee. 

{mosads}The lack of some key endorsements could make convention plans difficult, especially since Trump has declared an endorsement to be a pre-requisite for a speaking slot. While Trump has signaled he wants an unconventional line-up of convention speakers, the handful of Republicans skipping the event or balking at endorsing the nominee could limit the party’s options. 

Here’s where Trump’s former rivals stand on the three major questions — do they endorse Trump, will they attend the convention, and will they speak if asked?  


Ben Carson

Carson is one of Trump’s highest profile endorsers and a regular surrogate on the cable news shows. His business adviser Armstrong Williams said there are plans for him to speak at the convention. 

Chris Christie

Another key member of the Trump inner circle, Christie is reportedly being vetted as a possible vice presidential pick. So while his office would not confirm whether he’d be attending or speaking at the convention, he’s a likely participant and could even take center stage as a member of the ticket. 

Ted Cruz

Cruz’s relationship with Trump publicly soured toward the tail end of his presidential campaign when the brash businessman retweeted a picture criticizing his wife’s appearance and then spread a rumor that Cruz’s father was involved in President John F. Kennedy’s assassination

The senator has repeatedly declined to offer an endorsement and his staff told the New York Times the senator is not expecting to speak at the convention. But Cruz told The Hill he will attend.

“We’ve got nearly 600 delegates and I want to go and say thank you for the hard work all of them put in,” he said.

Under current party rules, Cruz won enough delegates in the primary to be placed into nomination — which would secure him a speaking slot — but he hasn’t said whether he would do so.

Mike Huckabee

One thing’s for sure — Trump hearts Huckabee, and Huckabee hearts Trump too. The former Arkansas governor, whose daughter is a top Trump adviser, has spoken highly of Trump from the start and told Fox News Radio’s “Kilmeade & Friends” that Trump has talked to him about speaking at the convention and that he would accept if asked.

Rick Santorum

Santorum, who endorsed Trump in late May after a “heart-to-heart,” will attend the GOP convention.

His spokesman, Matt Beynon, told The Hill that “He has made it clear to Mr. Trump that he is available to assist his campaign however they think is best.” 

Scott Walker

Walker has sent mixed messages on Trump, endorsing him after he won the primary but since arguing that delegates shouldn’t have to be bound to support him or any other candidate. He told reporters in Wisconsin that he hasn’t been invited to speak but will attend the convention as a delegate.

Rick Perry

While the Texas governor had eviscerated Trump as a “cancer” on conservatism before dropping out of the race, but he’s since come around to welcome Trump with open arms. 

Katon Dawson, a South Carolina delegate who has worked for Perry, told The Hill that he spoke with the governor this week and that Perry will attend the convention and “would welcome the chance to address any group of Republicans in the country.” 


Jeb Bush

The former Florida governor spent his candidacy as Trump’s favorite punching bag, thanks in no small part to the well-funded super-PAC backing Bush that couldn’t close the deal. 

Bush has been resolute on his stance—he announced in a Facebook post in May he wouldn’t vote for Trump and told CNN in April he wouldn’t attend the convention. Bush confirmed to The Hill Thursday that he hadn’t changed his plans. 

Lindsey Graham

The South Carolina senator took a hard line against Trump in a blistering statement from May where he ruled out endorsing Trump or attending the convention.  

“It’s hard to believe that in a nation of more than 300 million Americans Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be our choices for President,” he said.  

“I also cannot in good conscience support Donald Trump because I do not believe he is a reliable Republican conservative nor has he displayed the judgment and temperament to serve as Commander in Chief.” 

Bobby Jindal

The former Louisiana governor will vote for Trump as “the better of two bad choices,” he outlined in a Wall Street Journal op-ed in May.

But he’s not planning to attend the convention, he told CNN that same month, and has remained largely out of the political spotlight over the past few months.


John Kasich

Kasich has so far spurned Trump despite the fact that he is governor of state hosting the convention. 

His spokesman, Chris Schrimpf, told the New York Times, “We have not sought nor are we expecting a speaking slot at the convention.” He added that Kasich will be “in and around” Cleveland and attending events to help down-ballot but wouldn’t disclose whether the governor planned to attend the convention itself. 

Kasich repeatedly bristled at Trump’s tone throughout the campaign and has publicly wrestled with over whether to endorse Trump.

His campaign even sent out a statement this week, the first since he ended his bid, highlighting how Kasich performed better than Trump in swing state polls against Hillary Clinton.

Marco Rubio

Rubio is walking a thin line with Trump, the man he previously lambasted from the campaign trail. 

He’s apologized to Trump for a vulgar dig at his manhood, and previously said he will support Trump and would be open to speaking at the convention to help Trump. 

But he refused to walk back his attacks from the primary, most notably that Trump can’t be trusted with the country’s nuclear weapons.

And he went on to call the prospect of a Trump election worrisome in his statement announcing his bid for Senate. He told a Florida radio station Thursday morning that he’s reevaluating whether to attend the convention based on the rigors of his Senate campaign.  

Rand Paul

The Kentucky senator, up for reelection in the fall, has assured voters he’d abide by his pledge to support the Republican nominee in November. But he’s waffled on whether to attend the convention despite the fact he’s a delegate for his home state. 

A Paul spokesman told The Hill that “we have yet to decide if Sen. Paul will be attending,” but noted that Cleveland is just a short drive from Kentucky. 

George Pataki

The former New York governor has refused to endorse Trump after repeatedly criticizing him during his short presidential bid. Pataki’s spokesman told The Hill he’s undecided on attending the convention.


Carly Fiorina

Trump’s attacks on Carly Fiorina’s physical appearance became one of the major storylines of the GOP primary, and it doesn’t appear that the two have made up. 

Fiorina has not explicitly endorsed Trump — she’s remained quiet on the topic ever since a failed stint as Ted Cruz’s vice-presidential-nominee-in-waiting. But she has continued to email supporters calling to join her to “defeat Hillary Clinton.” 

She’s remained publicly mum on whether she’d attend the convention and her staff did not return a request for comment. 

Jim Gilmore

Gilmore has called for the party to unify behind Trump and said he’d help the nominee with voter registration in Virginia. 

He fell short in his bid to win a delegate seat to the convention. His spokesman did not respond to a request to clarify his plans for the convention. 

Alex Bolton contributed.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video