IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

9 Elephants in the Room at RNC: Who's Missing From the Speakers List

And what those omissions mean for the party.
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds his bible while speaking at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition Forum in Des Moines
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds his bible while speaking at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition Forum in Des Moines, Iowa, September 19, 2015.Brian Frank / Reuters

The Trump campaign on Thursday finally released its list of speakers for the coming Republican convention after a week of delays and a firm insistence that the group would impress and defy expectations. What's most striking is not who’s on the list, but what's missing from it.

Related: Here Are the RNC Speakers We Know Of

No previous Republican presidents or vice presidents will speak, just a third of the party’s original 17 presidential contenders will rally behind the nominee, and just 11 of the most prominent speakers at 2012’s convention will have a slot this year. Instead, there are Trumps — including five immediate family members — Trump friends and Trump employees.

Here is what’s missing from the speaker’s list, and what those omissions mean for the party.

Any Bush at all: The two living former Republican presidents both share the name George Bush and the decision not to attend this year’s GOP confab. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who was ridiculed by Trump throughout the 2016 primary, will also not attend. While Trump's campaign has succeeded its break from politics as usual, the noticeable absence of the Bush family signals a big snub to the party.

Sarah Palin: Perhaps no candidate paved the way for Donald Trump like Palin. The former Alaska governor burst onto the national political stage in 2008 as John McCain’s wildcard running mate. With the bombast and media disdain that Trump has made central to his brand, Palin was America’s most famous outsider conservative. Though her stock has largely fallen since her departure from politics was followed by her rambling public speeches, Palin campaigned with Trump and is still a crowd-pleaser in Republican circles.

Marco Rubio: The young Latino Florida senator who spoke about his student loans and his immigrant family on the stump was once seen as the future of the GOP. One of the many presidential hopefuls vanquished by Trump in the primary, Rubio had indicated he would attend the convention and be willing to speak. But later, a spokesman said he was busy campaigning for reelection in Florida after jumping back in the race.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley: The Indian-American governor was pitched as the face of the GOP just six months ago when she gave the party’s State of the Union response in January. She was also applauded for her leadership last year through a racially-motivated shooting in a Charleston church, eventually calling for the removal of the Confederate flag from the state house grounds. She endorsed Rubio before her state’s GOP primary, which Trump eventually won — earning his derision on Twitter.

A-list celebrities: The biggest celebrity speaker was Tim Tebow, but the high-profile Christian quarterback said in a post on Facebook Thursday evening that the news was "a rumor." Currently a free agent, Tebow said in the video that he'd just returned from the Philippines. “I wake up this am to find out I'm speaking at the RNC — its amazing how fast rumors fly, and that’s exactly what it is, a rumor.”
The only other celebrities? Two soap opera stars — Kimberlin Brown and Antonio Sabato Jr. To be sure: Celebrity speakers are often last-minute additions. The big name in 2012, Clint Eastwood, was a surprise for the Tampa crowd.
Diversity: The vast majority of speakers are white. Of the 60 on the list whose races could be determined by NBC News, 50 are white, six are black, two are of Middle Eastern descent, one is Latino and another is Asian.

Gov. Susana Martinez: After Trump publicly trashed the New Mexico governor earlier this year, it’s no surprise she won’t speak at his nomination convention. It is, however, another big sign that the RNC will be about Trump — not the party he’s struggled to unify. She’s the nation’s only Latina governor and a former district attorney right on the Mexican border, with a record of taking on public corruption.

Rick Perry: The former Texas governor hasn’t always been a Trump fan — he endorsed and campaigned for Sen. Ted Cruz after ending his own presidential bid — but the border-state governor has since endorsed the presumptive nominee and has tried to straddle the line between more his own slightly more moderate immigration views and Trump’s hard-line plans to build a wall and deport millions.

John Kasich: Despite the facts that Kasich’s state is hosting the RNC and he won Ohio in the primaries, the popular governor won’t be speaking. He and Trump didn’t get along well during the race, and Kasich's absence is yet another visible sign of intra-party divisions.

Anna Merod contributed reporting.

An earlier version of this story said the musician Darrell Scott would be attending. The pastor Darrell Scott is attending. This story has been updated to reflect Tim Tebow's Facebook post Thursday evening.