There was a time that sitting out the Republican National Convention was akin to not watching the Super Bowl for members of the GOP. Those days appear to be gone as Donald Trump has become the official nominee of the party, making the old guard (many of whom he's insulted) shake in their proverbial boots (because let's be real, we know they're wearing loafers). Among those insulted elder statesmen is the senator and former presidential candidate John McCain, causing some to wonder: Is McCain at the RNC?
McCain is among many prominent Republicans who chose not to attend this year's RNC. It's especially telling that this is the first time McCain hasn't attended the convention since 1984, and that eight years ago, it was he who the party nominated as their presidential candidate.
McCain pragmatically endorsed Trump earlier this year, saying he stood behind Republican voters who chose him as their candidate. Despite his endorsement, McCain also criticized the nominee for his disparaging comments about prisoners of war last year, in which Trump callously singled out McCain by saying, "I like people who weren't captured."
The senator's official reasoning for not attending the RNC is that he is focusing on his re-election in an ever-tightening senate race in Arizona, where Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric is wildly unpopular with the state's large Latino voting bloc.
McCain is in good company as he sits out the party's Trump free-for-all. Both living former Republican presidents (George Bush, Jr. and Sr.) and Mitt Romney, the party's 2012 nominee, are conspicuously absent from the event. Jilted former Republican candidates from this year's race-circus have also decided to skip the spectacle in lieu of other activities, from Sen. Rand Paul, who is reportedly giving free eye exams in Kentucky, to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who told reporters he's working on a fix for a tricky toxic algae situation. So, you know, they're just being normal politicians intelligently trying to avoid the embarrassment of this year's convention. Can you blame them?
McCain's absence, like those of other prominent Republicans, speaks volumes. It's clear that the party division over Trump, who only hours ago was officially declared the nominee, continues to widen. Some have chosen what could be considered the high road: not getting too close, and standing at the ready for when it comes time to clean it up when the party implodes.