Trump’s role as a convention headliner signals the Georgia Republican Party’s continued allegiance to the far-right former president, who’s currently under criminal investigation in the state for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results there. Several officials with the Georgia GOP reportedly were involved in the scheme to submit false Electoral College votes to Congress declaring him the winner of the 2020 election.
The speech could prove legally treacherous for the former president. With such a Trump-friendly audience, I’m taking all bets that his bombastic tendencies lead him to say something he shouldn’t.
The only other 2024 presidential hopefuls scheduled to appear are long-shot candidates Vivek Ramaswamy and Asa Hutchinson. The rest of the lineup is full of Trump-loving conspiracy theorists — in particular, election deniers — such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, however, will not be in attendance, even though he is expected to formally launch his presidential candidacy on Wednesday, his 64th birthday. Last week, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Greg Bluestein reported that Georgia’s GOP chair had sent an email to delegates saying Pence had planned to attend but pulled out “because of a televised national town hall at which he will be making an announcement regarding his future plans.” Pence will reportedly send a video of himself instead.
Quick scheduling note: Pence’s town hall is scheduled for Wednesday, and Georgia’s GOP convention will begin two days later. Maybe Pence is super busy? Maybe he’s avoiding an awkward encounter with his former boss? Or maybe he’s trying to duck the likelihood of being heckled by Trump-loving Republicans?
All are technically possible, I suppose. In that vein, it’s also noteworthy that two Georgia Republicans in particular — Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger — reportedly won’t be attending the convention.
Trump’s unsuccessful attempts to persuade Kemp and Raffensperger to help him overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia are well known, similar to his attempt to pressure Pence. As the Valdosta Daily Times noted, the two men have faced backlash from fellow Georgia Republicans for their disobedience on that front: Raffensperger was censured by the Georgia GOP, while Kemp was booed while giving a speech at last year’s convention. (Both men have been subpoenaed to testify as part of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ election interference investigation.)
You can anticipate one of the more Trump-devoted crowds in recent memory at this week’s GOP convention in Georgia. I don’t imagine Pence, Raffensperger or Kemp will be listening.
Prosecutors? Now, that’s a different story.