The Republican National Convention is starting to look like a glorious, tacky spectacle

Jason O. Gilbert
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This year's Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where Donald Trump will be crowned the party's nominee and Lord King, is starting to take shape. And the Trump camp is surprising many with its proposed speaker list, which includes public intellectuals, thoughtful policy analysts, and a slate of impressive GOP rising stars whose ideas will influence the party for years to come.

Just kidding! They invited Mike Ditka and the lead singer of Poison. Buckle in, baby: Trumpalooza is around the corner!


Bloomberg Politics is reporting that the Trump campaign is "lining up a slate of iconic sports figures" for July's Republican National Convention in Cleveland, including boxer Mike Tyson, former Bears coach Mike Ditka, and former Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight. Musical acts performing at events around the RNC include Rick Springfield, Journey, and the lead singer of Poison, Bret Michaels.

There is no word on whether the Trump campaign has also lined up a time machine to hold the convention in 1988.


(For the record, Trump claims in a tweet that "Iron Mike Tyson was not asked to speak at the Convention though I'm sure he would do a good job if he was," so put Tyson's appearance at 50/50.)

Trump has hinted at this circus-like plan before. At a rally in mid-June, Trump said, "I'm thinking about getting some of the great sports people I know, who like me a lot…We may call it ‘The Winners’ Evening."


The Winner's Evening—which, fittingly, sounds like a cheap Trump-branded cologne—is now taking shape. Trump's stated wish list for The Winner's Evening also included Trump's good muscular friends, the NFL's Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger, and UFC fighter Dana White.

None of those actual, current-day winners have RSVPed: Roethlisberger has since clarified that he will not appear at the RNC nor will he endorse Donald Trump; White, while maintaining he's "not a political guy," has endorsed Trump, but there's no word on his convention status. Tom Brady supports his "good friend" Donald Trump but has not endorsed him.

"Thank you, Mr. Shkreli. And now, please welcome to the stage, Mike Tyson!"
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All this talk about athletic supporters might leave you wondering: Hey, are any actual Republican politicians going to speak at the Republican National Convention?


According to Politico, that's a sticky issue. A Murderer's Row of both prominent and up-and-coming Republicans—including both Bush presidents, Mitt Romney, John McCain, John Kasich, Lindsey Graham, Kelly Ayotte, and rising star Mia Love—is leaning toward skipping the RNC.

It's very possible that the list of Republicans not attending the RNC will be more impressive than the actual list of attendees.


Trump loyalists Chris Christie and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions are sure to speak, along with Trump children Ivanka, Eric, and Donald Jr. Terrible Donald Trump Surrogate Ben Carson is likely to spin some of his wisdom, too.

But the quadrennial convention has traditionally been used to launch the national careers of several politicians on both sides of the aisle. The 2016 Republican version is looking more like a primetime celebration of Donald Trump and Friends' previous accomplishments rather than a show of political unity and a vision for the future.


And it's not like some of these no-shows have better things to do. Rep. Mia Love, who many thought could be a VP candidate this year, is taking a trip to Israel instead. Arizona Senator Jeff Flake recently told a reporter he won't be at the convention because he'll be mowing his lawn. We can't be too many days away from a GOP congressman turning down a speaking slot because he's washing his hair.

"Sorry, I'm getting my house pressure-washed that weekend."
David Ryder/Getty Images

That leaves plenty of open mic time at the four-day convention for both Bobby Knight to hurl a chair into the audience and for Journey to play some of their B-sides.

Trump's near-complete lack of confirmed outside speakers also leaves open another possibility: that he could take the mic for himself.


"I don’t know why the candidate only speaks on acceptance night,” Trump advisor Barry Bennett wondered aloud to Bloomberg in May. “Why shouldn’t he speak every night from a different city?"

That's right: Four nights of primetime Donald J. Trump acceptance speeches. Set your TiVo, baby—this is going to be the best (and probably last) Republican National Convention ever.

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