Donald Trump has promised to add some dazzling “showbiz” to the Republican National Convention, but the initial list of speakers has dim wattage.
Noticeably lacking are not only many of the party elders who are on the other side of the GOP civil war, but also the marquee celebrity and sports figures who typically provide star power to the four-day celebration.
Instead, the lineup is heavy on Trump clan members (all four of Trump’s adult children are due to speak, as well as his wife Melania) and less-than-top-billing stars, such as former football quarterback Tim Tebow, professional golfer Natalie Gulbis, and actor Antonio Sabàto Jr.
Also noteworthy — two of Trump’s possible vice-presidential picks are slated to speak in Cleveland next week, but one much-talked-about VP contender is absent.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who met with Trump on Wednesday at his Indianapolis home, is not on the convention speakers list unveiled Thursday. Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, however, are both on the list, which is subject to change.
Overall, the lineup provides a stark illustration of the havoc Trump has wreaked on the Republican Party on his way to the nomination. The party’s last two nominees, Mitt Romney and Arizona Sen. John McCain, will neither speak nor even make the trip to the banks of the Cuyahoga. Nor will the party’s only two living presidents, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, or former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, one of Trump’s favorite punching bags throughout the primary.
In their place are the party officials obligated to be at the Quicken Loans Arena, and an eclectic mix of religious leaders, athletes and politicians who, for the most part, have pledged their loyalty to Trump.
“I think it looks very different from a lot of other conventions, which have been maybe a little bit stale, maybe a little bit boring. I mean, my father has so many people from the private sector. I would say probably, I’m guessing at the number, but I’d say, you know, 40 percent of the people are probably private-sector people,” Eric Trump told Fox Business Network on Thursday.
Other primary rivals scheduled to speak include former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Ben Carson.
Members of Congress speaking in Cleveland include House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky; Reps. Michael McCaul of Texas, Ryan Zinke of Montana, Chris Collins of New York and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee; and Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Jeff Sessions of Alabama.
“We’ve got some great athletes, some great entertainment. You know, [football player] Tim Tebow’s out there and I mean, there’s so many, Dana White from the [Ultimate Fighting Championship] is going to be speaking and he’s just, he’s built such an amazing organization. I think he brings in a lot. It’s kind of an all-American company but it’s also a great example of entrepreneurialism,” Eric Trump said, adding that there are “great politicians in there.”
As far as the run of show, Eric Trump said he will speak on Wednesday before Trump’s running mate, noting that he believed Ivanka will be introducing the presumptive nominee on Thursday night.
“Don speaks, I believe, on Tuesday, and Tiffany’s speaking, which is really great. She just graduated from college—a way to throw her to the lions, so to speak,” Trump said.
Also scheduled to speak are Govs. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, and Rick Scott of Florida; Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, along with former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who was seen as one of the finalists on Trump’s vice-presidential shortlist.
Two survivors of the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, are also set take the stage.
Mark Geist and John Tiegen will appear, along with speakers who had already been reported, including former primary rivals Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin. Marcus Luttrell, author of “Lone Survivor,” will also appear.
Also speaking at the convention will be Las Vegas casino owner Phil Ruffin and Dana White, the president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Absent from the list are former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, former college basketball coach Bobby Knight and boxing promoter Don King, all of whom had been rumored to be under consideration.
The list instead includes retired astronaut Eileen Collins and well as Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, an outspoken critic of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Evangelical leader and Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., who endorsed Trump months ago, will also speak, along with Haskel Lookstein, the rabbi who converted Ivanka Trump to Judaism when she married her husband, Jared Kushner.
On the business side, venture capitalist Peter Thiel, real estate investor Tom Barrack and Kerry Woolard, general manager for Trump Winery in Virginia, are all slated to speak.
“It’s just a very, kind of diverse crowd,” Eric Trump said. “And I think it will be a lot of fun, a lot of entertaining.”