Have You Seen George W. Bush? John Kasich? John McCain? Looking for the GOP No-Shows at the RNC

July 21, 2016

On Wednesday, Senator Ted Cruz dominated the headlines when he refused to endorse Donald Trump during his prime-time speech at the Republican National Convention. Cruz is not the only prominent Republican to have withheld support for Trump. Many of the party’s most prominent members didn’t even show up. Democracy Now! headed to the convention floor to find out who made it to the convention and who didn’t.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, "Breaking with Convention: War, Peace and the Presidency." We’re broadcasting from Cleveland, Ohio, covering the Republican National Convention inside and out, from the streets to the convention floor. I’m Amy Goodman.

On Wednesday night, the big news of the convention was that Texas Senator Ted Cruz, former Republican presidential candidate, dominated the headlines when he refused to endorse Donald Trump during Cruz’s prime-time speech. But Cruz is not the only prominent Republican to have withheld support for Trump. Many of the party’s most prominent members didn’t even show up. Democracy Now! headed to the convention floor to look at who did and didn’t make it.

LAURA GOTTESDIENER: I’m Laura Gottesdiener, here with Democracy Now! We’re at the Republican National Convention, but we’re having a really hard time finding a number of top Republican leaders—Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham, Mitt Romney, even former President George W. Bush. We just—we’ve been running around, and we just haven’t been able to find them anywhere. But we’re here right now on the convention floor. It’s the second night. And we’re going to go inside, on the floor, to see where they’re at.

Right over in the distance, we can see the Nevada delegation. Let’s go see if we can try to find Senator Dean Heller.

RYDER HAAG: My name is Ryder Haag. I’m with the Nevada delegation.

LAURA GOTTESDIENER: And we’re actually here looking for your senator, Heller. Have you seen him?

RYDER HAAG: No, Senator Heller is not here.

LAURA GOTTESDIENER: And do you know where he is?

RYDER HAAG: No, I do not.

LAURA GOTTESDIENER: Is he backstage? Is he going to be speaking soon?

RYDER HAAG: I do not believe so.

LAURA GOTTESDIENER: Turns out Nevada Senator Dean Heller isn’t here. He did tell one outlet that he was going to be arrogating his ranch this week. But let’s go head on over to Florida, see if we can find Marco Rubio. We haven’t seen him all week.


MITZI PRATER: My name is Mitzi Prater. And I’m from Bay County, Florida, which is Panama City.

LAURA GOTTESDIENER: We’ve been looking for a number of people from your state. We’ve been looking for Marco Rubio, as well as former Governor Jeb Bush. Do you know where we might be able to find them?

MITZI PRATER: I have no idea. I think Rubio may show up sometime this week, but I don’t know where Jeb is. I’m sure he’s in Miami.

LAURA GOTTESDIENER: So it seems like a number of leaders are missing from the Florida delegation. Let’s go head on over to South Carolina, see if we can find Senator Lindsey Graham.

DON LONG: My name is Don Long, from Lake Wylie, South Carolina.

LAURA GOTTESDIENER: And we’ve actually been running all over, looking for a senator from your state, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. Have you seen him?

DON LONG: I haven’t seen Lindsey here. I mean, I’ve talked to him and seen him around a lot, but I haven’t seen him here.

LAURA GOTTESDIENER: Do you know if he’s planning to come?


LAURA GOTTESDIENER: Would you like to see him come?

DON LONG: To the convention? Sure.

LAURA GOTTESDIENER: So, no-show, at least so far, with South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. But let’s keep going. Let’s keep searching for people.

MARK BROWN: My name’s Mark Brown, from Houston, Texas.

LAURA GOTTESDIENER: And we were looking—we’ve been looking all over. We’ve been looking for former President George W. Bush. Have you seen him?

MARK BROWN: No, I haven’t seen him at all. No. He’s a good guy, though, so I wish him well, wherever he is.

LAURA GOTTESDIENER: Do you know what his thoughts are about Donald Trump?

MARK BROWN: I don’t—I think he’s very concerned about the direction of the country under Donald Trump. It seems he’s concerned that he may be the last Republican president.

LAURA GOTTESDIENER: Right here, I can see Kentucky delegation. So let’s see what’s going on with Senator Rand Paul.

J. TODD INMAN: My name is J. Todd Inman. And I’m from Owensboro, Kentucky.

LAURA GOTTESDIENER: We haven’t seen your senator, Rand Paul. Have you seen him?

J. TODD INMAN: Senator Paul elected not to come. He’s actually in a tough re-election—not tough, but he’s in a re-election cycle this year back home, so he’s elected to stay there and is, obviously, paying a lot of attention to make sure that he’s representing the interests of Kentucky.

LAURA GOTTESDIENER: So it turns out that Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is not here. But right behind us, I see the Ohio delegation. Let’s see if we can go find Governor John Kasich of Ohio.

ROBIN HAWKINS: My name is Robin Hawkins. I’m from Mansfield, Ohio. I’m serving as a delegate, alternate delegate, actually, for Governor Kasich.

LAURA GOTTESDIENER: Congratulations. And we’ve actually been looking for Governor Kasich. Have you been able to find him over the last few days?

ROBIN HAWKINS: I have not seen him.

LAURA GOTTESDIENER: Well, it doesn’t seem like we’ve been able to find Ohio Governor John Kasich. But just next door, over here, is the Pennsylvania delegation. So let’s see about Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey.

WAYNE BUCKWALTER: My name is Wayne Buckwalter, from outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

LAURA GOTTESDIENER: We’ve also been running around everywhere looking for your senator, Pat Toomey. Have you seen him?

WAYNE BUCKWALTER: No, I also haven’t seen the congressman from my district, Ryan Costello, who was elected as a delegate promising to vote for the district winner on the first ballot. I haven’t seen him, either.

LAURA GOTTESDIENER: How do you feel about that?

WAYNE BUCKWALTER: Well, you know, all I can say is he said it, and I didn’t see him here voting.

LAURA GOTTESDIENER: Seems like sometimes the crowd’s a little thin. Do you feel like some Republican leaders are not showing up for Donald Trump?

WAYNE BUCKWALTER: Well, obviously. I mean, that’s—you know, that’s clear. We see a lot of the candidates who pledged to support the nominee not here. We see ex-presidents not here. Bob Dole was here, which all the ex-presidents should be.

LAURA GOTTESDIENER: Former President George W. Bush is not here.

WAYNE BUCKWALTER: Well, he would be an example.

LAURA GOTTESDIENER: And does that—as a Trump supporter, does that make you upset?

WAYNE BUCKWALTER: Not upset. I’m kind of disappointed in somebody that I voted for twice and really thinks that people helped him, and he should be doing the same thing.

LAURA GOTTESDIENER: Well, looks like there’s still a lot of no-shows from top Republican leaders. I’m Laura Gottesdiener, with Democracy Now!

AMY GOODMAN: Former Florida—well, Florida senator and former Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio did appear in a recorded video on Wednesday night at the convention, endorsing Donald Trump, but he has not physically come to the Republican convention.

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