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President Trump will accept his party's nomination for a second term in a speech Thursday night at the Republican National Convention. The four-day event has included some big names, but several Massachusetts political figures are notably absent.
Some state Republicans say this shows that prototypical Massachusetts Republicans — and others who are socially moderate and fiscally conservative — don't fit easily into the GOP under Trump.
Gov. Charlie Baker has won two terms and boasts a 70% favorability rating in a deep blue state, making him the kind of standout who'd typically be featured as evidence of Republicans' broad appeal. Yet, he revealed at a news conference this week that he wasn't invited to his party's quadrennial showcase.
"I haven't been and, honestly, I'm a lot more focused on what's going on in Massachusetts right now," he said.
Baker is one of many prominent Republicans who fit the classic mold of a convention speaker, but have clashed with Trump and are on the sideline.
"Who is not there is as important a story as who is there," said Ed Lyons, a moderate Republican activist and writer. "The national party, as a culture, is not interested in people like me or Governor Baker or a bunch of others. We're simply not welcome."
Barring a surprise appearance by Bob Dole, the RNC won't include any former presidential nominees, a contrast with Democrats, who trotted out five past standard bearers to support Joe Biden at their convention last week.
That means prime-time TV viewers won't see George W. Bush backing Trump — and certainly not 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, either. The former Massachusetts governor, now a senator from Utah, was the only Republican who voted to remove Trump from office during an impeachment trial in February.
Then there's Bill Weld, another former Massachusetts governor, who challenged Trump in this year's Republican primary. Runners-up often get convention speaking slots and urge their supporters to set aside hard feelings and vote for the ticket.
"No, I've said right along that I would never support Donald Trump to be reelected president of the United States," he said.
Weld said Trump's alienation of moderates like him, Romney and Baker shows how dramatically the party has narrowed under the president's leadership. That could add to the challenge of growing the party in a blue state like Massachusetts.
But Amy Carnevale, a Republican convention delegate from Marblehead, told WBUR's Morning Edition this week that the president's style could appeal to more swing-state voters than polls indicate.
"Given the number of people that we found four years ago who did not respond to polls and who tended to be Trump supporters, I think we're going to see even a larger margin of victory this time around," she said.
Reelection might vindicate Trump, but suppose the president who's come to define the Republican Party loses in November. Weld thinks the the GOP would be left in shambles because it's become so much about one man and his family. Seven Trumps have speaking roles at the convention.
"There's going to need to be a reconstruction effort — or a construction of a new second party," Weld said. "I'm not even sure I would choose the name Republican for it. And it'll consist of moderate Republicans, moderate Democrats, some practical Libertarians, some people representing the environmentalist point of view. And that would be, I think, an appealing party."
Weld may help build a new party even if Trump wins, he said.
This segment aired on August 27, 2020.
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