A top surrogate for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden – pointing to some glaring absences of some former and current GOP leaders at this week’s Republican National Convention – is arguing that the Republican convention suffers from a lack of party unity.
While the 2016 Republican convention was riddled with tension and protests over Donald Trump's rise at the GOP nominee, four years later the gathering is dissent free as the four-day confab serves as a celebration of Trump – and a testament to the president's complete takeover of the party.
But the absence of some speakers is notable.
Not addressing the convention for the third straight time – and a glaring break from tradition – is the only living former Republican president, George. W. Bush. The former president also skipped making an in-person appearance at the 2012 and 2016 Republican conventions.
Also far from the festivities is 2012 GOP presidential nominee Sen. Mitt Romney, a vocal Trump critic who was the only Senate Republican to vote to convict the president on either of the counts he faced during this year’s impeachment trial.
A number of Senate Republicans facing challenging reelections of their own this year were also not included in the convention speakers list.
And hours before the start of the convention, a sizeable group of former GOP House and Senate members came out in support of Biden.
“You have pretty significant Republicans who’ve gone out of their way to say very publicly that they want no part of this convention. This is stunning. This is a convention with no former presidents or presidential nominees taking part,” Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey told reporters during a Biden campaign briefing Tuesday. “It is surprising to see the absences here and the people who are openly working against Donald Trump from the Republican Party.”
Booker, a Biden rival during the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination race, argued that “if anything, that should be telling to Republicans that they have a convention that is lacking so much unity while at our convention – on the contrary – you saw a significant number of our former presidents, from Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama to Bill Clinton.”
The senator added that “you saw a whole host of people who actually ran against Joe Biden, including myself, from all corners of our party coming out and endorsing him.”
And he claimed that the GOP convention “clearly shows that Donald Trump has distorted the Republican Party in a way that many people have run away from it.”
Responding to the criticism by Booker, Republican National Committee spokesman Steve Guest told Fox News that the GOP convention "features a multitude of speakers that share their stories about the bright future America has with four more years of President Trump in The White House. Unlike the DNC, who featured Hollywood elites and D.C. swamp creatures, not only is the RNC providing a platform for real Americans to speak, it’s an opportunity for the American Dream to be celebrated.”
While the Democratic National Convention did include high-profile Hollywood stars, there were also plenty of average Americans included.
With a common goal of booting Trump from the White House in November's general election, the progressive and moderate wings of the Democratic Party mostly presented an image of unity last week at their nominating convention. But there was one moment where progressives protested in large numbers – over the party’s platform.
Nearly a quarter of convention delegates – likely pledged to progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders – voted in protest against the platform. While the 2020 platform is considered the most progressive in the party’s history, it doesn’t specifically endorse "Medicare-for-all," which has been championed by Sanders for decades.