Majority of GOP senators to attend Trump convention

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A majority of Senate Republicans will be attending the party’s national convention in Cleveland this month, despite the reservations that many of them have about Donald Trump.

A survey by The Hill found that 32 Senate Republicans plan to attend the convention in Cleveland later this month, while 18 will skip it. Four Republican senators said they had not yet decided.

{mosads}Only two senators facing competitive races in the fall will attend: Rob Portman (Ohio) and Richard Burr (N.C.).

Portman will spend most of his time away from the main show, focusing on campaign events such as building a Habitat for Humanity home for a family in need and kayaking on the Cuyahoga River to help war veterans.

Burr said he would be at the convention only briefly.

Two vulnerable GOP incumbents, Sens. Ron Johnson (Wis.) and Pat Toomey (Pa.), told The Hill in April that they anticipated going to the convention. In the past week they said their plans had changed.   

Trump’s stock in the Senate took a hit a month ago when he criticized an Indiana-born federal judge as unfit to preside over a lawsuit against Trump University because of his Mexican heritage.

Republican lawmakers are growing increasingly skeptical about Trump’s ability to win, especially after his latest campaign finance report revealed he had only $1.3 million cash on hand.

But the convention offers lawmakers a valuable chance to meet with donors and activists who can be helpful in the future. Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), who could run for president again in four years, will be in Cleveland to thank supporters and has been given a speaking slot.

The most active participants at the convention include Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Sen. Thom Tillis (N.C.), who will serve as delegates, and Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), an early Trump supporter who will chair the Alabama delegation.     

“An awful lot of political activists important in their home states are there. To pass up the convention means missing an opportunity to get connected to people who might be important in the future,” said Steven S. Smith, a political science professor at Washington University in St. Louis.

“There are some risks in going and being associated with a presidential candidate who may still go down in flames,” he said. “You can lay low. You don’t have to look for photo opportunities with Donald Trump.”

Democrats are using Trump, the GOP’s presumptive nominee for president, as their primary attack against Republican candidates.

“Whether or not they’ll be in Cleveland, Republican senators continue to support Trump’s bigoted and divisive candidacy, align with him on many of his out-of-touch policies, and are still holding a Supreme Court seat for him to fill,” said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman Sam Lau. 

Here’s a look at which Republican senators will be on hand for Trump’s big show.

32 attending

Lamar Alexander (Tenn.)

John Barrasso (Wyo.) — “I’ll be with the Wyoming delegation and chairing the platform committee.”

John Boozman (Ark.)

Richard Burr (N.C.) — “I’ll be there for a quick period.”

Bill Cassidy (La.) — “I am hosting something for our delegation from back home.”

Dan Coats (Ind.)

Susan Collins (Maine)

Bob Corker (Tenn.)

John Cornyn (Texas)

Tom Cotton (Ark.) — Spokesman: “He does plan to attend.”

Ted Cruz (Texas) — “We’ve got nearly 600 delegates, and I want to go and say thank you for the hard work all of them put in.”

Joni Ernst (Iowa)

Deb Fischer (Neb.)

Cory Gardner (Colo.) — “At least part of it.”

Chuck Grassley (Iowa) — “Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.”

Orrin Hatch (Utah) — “I have second thoughts, but I’ll be there.”

John Hoeven (N.D.) — “I plan on it. Still working on the schedule.”

James Inhofe (Okla.)

Johnny Isakson (Ga.)

James Lankford (Okla.)

Mike Lee (Utah)

Mitch McConnell (Ky.) — Spokesman: “He will be a delegate.”

Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.)

David Perdue (Ga.)

Rob Portman (Ohio)

Pat Roberts (Kan.) 

Mike Rounds (S.D.) — “For a couple of days.”

Tim Scott (S.C.) — “I am going.”

Jeff Sessions (Ala.) — Will serve as chairman of the Alabama delegation.

Dan Sullivan (Alaska) — “I am, for a little bit. Still working on my schedule.”

Thom Tillis (N.C.) — “I’m a delegate.”

Roger Wicker (Miss.) 


18 skipping

Kelly Ayotte (N.H.)

Roy Blunt (Mo.) — Spokesman: “The Missouri primary election is two weeks after the convention.”

Mike Crapo (Idaho) — “I’m in cycle and focusing on my own election.”

Steve Daines (Mont.) — “I’ll have my fly rod in my hand with my wife in Montana.”

Mike Enzi (Wyo.) 

Jeff Flake (Ariz.) — “I’ve got to mow my lawn.”

Lindsey Graham (S.C.)

Dean Heller (Nev.)

Ron Johnson (Wis.) — “Right now I don’t have plans to.”

Mark Kirk (Ill.)

John McCain (Ariz.) — “I’m up for reelection.”

Jerry Moran (Kan.) — “I haven’t made a final decision, but I haven’t planned on it.”

Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) — “I’m up in the state.”

Marco Rubio (Fla.) — Spokesman: “Marco had planned to go to the convention before he decided to seek reelection. Since Marco got into the race late, he will be in Florida campaigning and meeting with voters instead of going to Ohio.”

Ben Sasse (Neb.) — Spokesman: “Sen. Sasse will not be attending the convention and will instead take his kids to watch some dumpster fires across the state, all of which enjoy more popularity than the current front-runners.”

Richard Shelby (Ala.) — Spokesman: “I do not believe he plans to attend.”

Pat Toomey (Pa.) — “I’m not planning on being there.”

David Vitter (La.) 

4 undecided

Thad Cochran (Miss.) — “I don’t know.”

Rand Paul (Ky.) — “I haven’t decided.”

Jim Risch (Idaho) — “I don’t know. Undecided.”

John Thune (S.D.) — “We haven’t firmed everything up yet. It’s possible for part of it.”

– Updated on July 13.


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