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Donald Trump to jazz up convention with celebrities

Legendary former Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight is among potential attendees at Donald Trump’s convention.Darron Cummings/Associated Press/File 2016

CLEVELAND — Donald Trump’s team promises an extraordinary display of political entertainment at this month’s Republican National Convention, with the accent on entertainment.

The former reality television star plans to feature his high-profile children at the summer gathering in Cleveland, with the hope they’ll be joined by a number of celebrity supporters. Prospects include New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, former Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight, and longtime boxing promoter Don King.

‘‘I’m going to be involved, definitely,’’ said King, who lives in Cleveland and is a passionate supporter of the presumptive Republican nominee. ‘‘He’s my man. I love him. He’s going to be the next president.’’


Brady has called Trump his friend but has not formally endorsed the businessman.

While some of the boldface names on Trump’s list have yet to be confirmed, the fact they’re on it is a reminder that many of the Republican Party’s biggest stars aren’t willing to appear on his behalf.

The GOP’s two living presidents, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, its most recent presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, and Ohio’s Republican governor, John Kasich, all plan to avoid the four-day event that traditionally serves as a powerful display of party unity heading into the sprint toward Election Day.

‘‘He’s going to have to bring all his skills to bear to make this work, not just in Cleveland, but for the next four months,’’ said Matt Borges, the Ohio Republican Party chairman. ‘‘It won’t be easy, but that’s what he’s got to do.’’

Trump’s team says he’s up to the challenge.

‘‘This is not going to be your typical party convention like years past,’’ said Trump spokesman Jason Miller. ‘‘Donald Trump is better suited than just about any candidate in memory to put together a program that’s outside of Washington and can appeal directly to the American people.’’


When Hillary Clinton hosts her party at the Democratic National Convention the following week, she’ll face a different issue entirely: how to squeeze in the many popular, prominent Democrats backing her campaign.

Along with Clinton and her eventual vice presidential pick, there are sure to be speeches from President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, first lady Michelle Obama and, of course, the candidate’s husband, former president Bill Clinton.

There’s also Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, a favorite of liberals and one of Trump’s fiercest critics. Warren is on Clinton’s running-mate short list but will surely be slotted for a prominent convention speech if she’s not selected.

In a separate development Monday, Trump blamed the news media for the controversy surrounding an anti-Clinton tweet that appeared to depict the Star of David atop a pile of cash.

Trump said on Twitter: ‘‘Dishonest media is trying their absolute best to depict a star in a tweet as the Star of David rather than a sheriff’s star, or plain star!’’ It was his first response since his official account tweeted — then deleted — the image Saturday. It later posted a new version with a circle in place of the star.

Clinton’s campaign called the tweets ‘‘disturbing’’ and part of a pattern that ‘‘should give voters major cause for concern.’’

By necessity as much as preference, Trump’s team is crafting a novel convention lineup. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, one of the likely speakers, praised Trump’s plan to use his celebrity connections to reach a broader audience.


‘‘Trump understands that if he can appeal to consumer America, he drowns political America,’’ Gingrich said. He said he had little idea of what kind of show to expect but recalled a recent conversation with a Trump family member who confidently told him, ‘‘We know how to do conventions.’’

‘‘My children are all going to be speaking: Ivanka, Tiffany, Don, Eric. They’re going to be speaking,’’ Trump said Friday during an appearance at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver. ‘‘My wife is going to be speaking at the convention.’’

Trump’s campaign has also been in touch with aides to chief primary rival, Texas senator Ted Cruz, who has been trying to win a speaking slot. Other national leaders under consideration include former United Nations ambassador John Bolton, West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Washington Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and Gingrich.

Clinton’s speaking program isn’t without its snags. There’s no public sense yet of what role she’ll give to Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator whose surprisingly strong challenge in the Democratic primary has yet to officially end. Sanders says he’ll vote for Clinton, but he’s yet to formally endorse her and is pushing for changes to the Democratic platform.