Sixth GOP senator unlikely to attend Republican convention

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) said on Thursday that he was unlikely to attend the Republican convention in Jacksonville, Fla., next month, citing scheduling conflicts.

“Well, I have some things to do in Kansas that I got to do and unfortunately I didn’t know what was canceled and what was not and whatever, and so I will probably not be,” Roberts said when asked if he was going to the convention.

Roberts, who is retiring at the end of the year, is the sixth GOP senator to indicate they will not attend the Republican convention in Jacksonville, Fla., next month, where President Trump will formally accept the party’s nomination.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) became the first senator to say they would not attend, citing concerns about the coronavirus. He was quickly followed by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah).

Alexander’s office said he wasn’t going because he wanted to give other people a chance to be a delegate. An aide for Collins said she never intended to go because she does not attend national conventions when she is up for reelection. Collins faces a tough fight for her seat in Maine, with the outcome one of a handful of races that will determine who controls the Senate majority next year.

Spokespeople for Romney and Murkowski did not specify why they were not attending, and did not respond to follow-up questions.

But they’ve both had high-profile breaks with Trump. Romney has not said who he will vote for in November but indicated to The Atlantic in February that he could write in his wife’s name, which he did in 2016. Murkowski, who did not vote for Trump in 2016, told reporters last month that she was “struggling” with whether she could support him.

The recent increase in coronavirus cases in Florida has thrown another curveball into plans for Trump’s convention, which was already moved from Charlotte, N.C., to Jacksonville, Fla., over a dispute with the North Carolina governor about requiring social distancing.

Trump acknowledged in an interview this week that his convention plans could change further due to the spread of the virus.

“Now all of a sudden it’s spiking up a little bit, and that’s going to go down. It really depends on the timing. Look, we’re very flexible, we could do a lot of things, but we’re very flexible,” Trump told Greta Van Susteren, host of “Full Court Press.” 

Tags Chuck Grassley convention Coronavirus COVID-19 Donald Trump jacksonville Lamar Alexander Lisa Murkowski Mitt Romney Pat Roberts Susan Collins

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