- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 2, 2016

Donald Trump on Saturday said the names of attendees scheduled to speak at the Republican National Convention this month will be released on Wednesday as the presumptive presidential nominee prepares to formally secure his party’s nod despite growing disdain within the GOP establishment.

“The speakers slots at the Republican Convention are totally filled, with a long waiting list of those that want to speak - Wednesday release,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter.

When Republicans converge in Cleveland later this month, Mr. Trump is all but guaranteed to be named the GOP’s nominee for president. In recent weeks, however, a growing number of influential conservatives have said they either won’t speak in support of Mr. Trump during the RNC, or won’t attend outright.

Notably both of the party’s last two presidential nominees — former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican — have said they’ll skip the convention, and Politico reported this week that other Republicans not expected to attend include South Carolina Reps. Trey Gowdy and Mark Sanford, as well as Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo and New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte.

“Everyone has to make their own choice, but at this point, 70 percent of the American public doesn’t like Donald Trump. That’s as toxic as we’ve seen in American politics,” longtime Republican strategist Stuart Stevens told Politico. “Normally, people want to speak at national conventions. It launched Barack Obama’s political career.”

As Mr. Trump suggested previously, however, the speaking slots may very well be allocated not just to lawmakers, but to sports legends who have endorsed his campaign including Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

“I’m thinking about getting some of the great sports people I know, who like me a lot,” Mr. Trump said previously a rally in Richmond, Virginia. “We may call it ‘The Winners’ evening.”

Speaking in Denver on Friday, Mr. Trump told attendees at the Western Conservative Summit that he expects several of his family members to speak on his behalf as well. 

“My children are gonna be speaking at the convention,” he said. “My children are all gonna be speaking. Ivanka, Tiffany, Don, Eric, they’re gonna be speaking. My wife is gonna be speaking.”

The Republican National Convention is slated to take place at the Quickens Loan Arena in Cleveland starting July 18.

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