fb-pixel Skip to main content

Donald Trump has promised an “amazing” Republican National Convention next week, but many of the country’s top GOP leaders are opting to stay home.

Why? Several of them are skipping the confab because of Trump’s controversial candidacy, while others conveniently have existing plans or are campaigning for reelection.

Here are some of the best known Republican keeping away from Cleveland:

Mitt Romney, 2012 Republican presidential nominee and former Massachusetts governor

Jim Urquhart/REUTERS/file

Romney, a frequent and sharp critic of Trump, will not attend the convention, according to the Globe. Romney has called Trump a “phony” and “fraud,” and he has said he will not vote for him.

Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts

Bill Sikes/Associated press

Baker has indicated he would skip the convention (his spokeswoman cited the end of the legislative session as his reason). He recently told WBZ that he has “a really busy week next week.” Baker has also said he would not vote for Trump.

Jeb Bush, former Florida governor and Republican presidential candidate



In April, Bush told CNN that he would not attend the Republican convention, and a month later, he wrote in a Facebook post that he would not back Trump.

“Donald Trump has not demonstrated that temperament or strength of character. He has not displayed a respect for the Constitution. And, he is not a consistent conservative. These are all reasons why I cannot support his candidacy,” Bush wrote.

Marco Rubio, US senator from Florida and former Republican presidential candidate

Emily Michot/Miami Herald via Associated Press

Rubio had planned to attend the convention before he decided to seek reelection to the US Senate, his spokeswoman told CNN. Now, she said, he will be campaigning in Florida instead of going to Ohio.

President George W. Bush


A personal aide for Bush told Politico in May that the president “does not intend to attend.”

President George H.W. Bush

Kevin Lamarque/REUTERS

Bush has said he will not endorse Trump for president. The 91-year old is “retired from politics,” said spokesman Jim McGrath in a statement to Politico.

John McCain, Arizona senator and 2008 Republican presidential nominee


McCain will campaign for re-election to his US Senate seat instead of attend the convention, according to Politico. Trump once said about McCain, a prisoner of war in Vietnam, “I like people who weren’t captured.”

Kelly Ayotte, US senator from New Hampshire

Jim Cole/Associated Press

Ayotte told WMUR she will not attend the convention because she wants to focus on her reelection campaign. She has said repeatedly that she will support the party’s nominee but not endorse him.


Judd Gregg, former US senator and governor of New Hampshire

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters/Reuters

Gregg said he is “not excited about the direction the convention is going” and that his grandchildren are visiting the week it will be held, according to WMUR.

Lindsey Graham, US senator from South Carolina

Josh Smith/REUTERS

Graham said in a statement in May that he could not “in good conscience support Donald Trump,” nor that he would attend the convention, according to Time.

Trey Gowdy, US representative from South Carolina

Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press

Gowdy, the chairman the US House Select Committee to investigate Benghazi, told Politico he plans to take his family to the beach instead. Gowdy also said he has not attended Republican conventions in the past.

Mark Sanford, US representative and former governor from South Carolina

Bruce Smith/Associated Press/file

Sanford told Politico he’s not going to Cleveland. Sanford was formerly chairman of the Republican Governors Association, but he stepped down after he disappeared for several days to visit an Argentinian woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair.

Jeff Flake, US Senator from Arizona

Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

US Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona said he’d opt out of the convention because he will be “mowing my lawn,” according to the New York Times.

Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska

Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press

US Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said she will be flying around her far-flung state in a bush plane.

Senator Steve Daines of Montana

Susan Walsh/Associated Press

Steve Daines, a US senator from Montana, said he will be fly-fishing with his wife, according to the Times.

Meg Bernhard can be reached at meg.bernhard@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @meg_bernhard.