Looming GOP Convention Train Wreck

The Post today assesses the state of preparations for the Republican National Convention, now less than three weeks away, and things are less than optimal.

Dozens of well-known Republicans aren’t showing up. There’s no word yet on who will speak. A growing number of corporate sponsors are taking a pass. Groups of white supremacists and other agitators are on the way, while the official protest routes are frantically being redrawn after being thrown out in court. And then there’s the fight to dethrone the big star.

With less than three weeks to go, Donald Trump’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland is poised to be the most chaotic GOP gathering of the modern era.

The candidate, his family and close supporters are expected to play starring roles. So will most top congressional leaders. But many Republicans who want to distance themselves from Trump’s incendiary rhetoric are refusing to attend. Past corporate sponsors such as Ford, General Electric and JPMorgan Chase have declined to participate again.

The problems with the event itself don’t include the possible insurrection against Trump’s actual nomination.

Before completely focusing on presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, Trump first must quell a potential insurrection at his own convention. He’s preparing a team of 150 staffers and volunteers designed to corral votes, push potential changes to the party’s platform and, most importantly, block any attempt to unseat him.

A plan to allow convention delegates to vote however they want, rather than follow the results of their state’s primary, has earned the support of hundreds of delegates upset by Trump’s impending nomination, according to Free the Delegates, the group pushing for the change.

Then there’s the long list of folks not attending the shindig.

The anticipated chaos in Cleveland has dissuaded some vulnerable Republicans and once-generous corporate sponsors from showing up.

Members of the Bush family, including the former presidents, are planning to skip the convention even though they essentially helped build the modern GOP. Mitt Romney, the party’s 2012 nominee, also won’t be there.

Many current GOP leaders remain committed to going. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.) will attend as the convention’s official chairman and all of his lieutenants are scheduled to be there, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who is a Trump delegate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will be at the convention with most of his leadership team in tow.

But Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.), the fourth-ranking Senate Republican, will be in Missouri tending to a closer-than-expected reelection campaign. Several other incumbents up for reelection are also steering clear, including Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), John McCain (Ariz.), Patrick J. Toomey (Pa.) and Ron Johnson (Wis.). Two who will be there are home-state Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio) and Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), who said he is willing to speak at the convention.

Some vulnerable GOP House incumbents are also skipping, including Reps. Mia Love (Utah), Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) and Carlos Curbelo (Fla.).

In 2012, companies including Amgen, General Electric and Ford ponied up tens of thousands of dollars to officially sponsor the Republican convention in Tampa. This year they cite varying reasons for withholding support; none mention Trump.

And finally, let’s not forget the violent protesters both for and against Trump. Just last week, five people were stabbed during a white supremacist rally in Sacramento.

Groups planning demonstrations for and against Trump are still sorting out where exactly they can march. A federal judge ruled that protest routes planned by Cleveland officials were unconstitutional and ordered up a new plan. Talks are underway between city leaders, federal security officials and protest organizers, but there’s no way to ensure that pro- and anti-Trump factions won’t come face-to-face in the streets of Cleveland, potentially causing violent mayhem.

Officials are particularly concerned about extremists on either side. A group of white nationalists who held a rally in California last weekend where five people were stabbed has said it plans to show up in Cleveland “to make sure that Donald Trump supporters are defended,” according to a McClatchy report.

Yes, I’m sure that’s going to go just swimmingly.

So other than all that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

Cleveland ’16 = Chicago ’68? Here’s hoping for maximum chaos and minimal serious injury.

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