This year’s Republican Convention (RNC) is one stacked with absurdity. Rather than speakers being party elders and former Republican leaders, Trump has turned the convention into his own personal celebrity convention, with B-list (at best) celebrities speaking on his behalf.
Trump has loaded the RNC convention with 90’s daytime B-celebrities. No Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis or Clint Eastwood any more. Hollywood does not like Trump at all.
All are conservative and many have histories of attacking Clinton
Most have a history with reality TV, appealing to the Trump crowd
At least Mitt Romney had Clint Eastwood and his infamous empty chair.
— Paul Singer (@singernews) July 14, 2016
Ivanka Trump, Donald’s eldest daughter and a scheduled speaker herself, has promised a “convention unlike any we’ve ever seen,” no “ho-hum lineup of, you know, the typical politicians.” At a June rally in Dallas Donald Trump even said he was considering having a “winner’s night” at the convention, featuring celebrities and athletes like college basketball legend Bobby Knight and boxing promoter Don King.
But King isn’t on the list, and keep in mind that this is after King told the Associated Press, “I’m going to be involved, definitely. He’s my man. I love him.” Though perhaps Trump decided King’s various fraud suits and past suspicions about possible mob connections would inevitably ruin the fun at this memorable RNC.
Regardless, the man – who, if nothing else, is certainly an expert entertainer with plenty of friendships in that realm – is delivering nothing in the way of starpower.
Instead, the list of entertainers and athletes speaking at the convention will consist of:
- Former soap-opera actors (Kimberlin Brown and Antonio Sabato Jr.)
- A former Happy Days cast member (Scott Baio)
- An obscure female professional golfer (Natalie Gulbis)
- A member of the Duck Dynasty crew (Willie Robertson)
- And the president of Ultimate Fighting Championship (Dana White)
You really can’t make this up. It’s just too perfectly slapdash. But to dismiss the list for how underwhelming it is means never learning more about how it all came together and what some of these people believe about Trump and the world.
Let’s go into a few RNC speakers a bit more.
Scott Baio, actor best known for the role of Chachi in Happy Days
Trump promised big-name celebrities for the RNC convention.
He delivered Chachi.
His presidency in a nutshell. https://t.co/WCewMOvvA5
— (((Marc))) (@UsesBadWords) July 17, 2016
— Scott Baio (@ScottBaio) July 14, 2016
Scott Baio’s biggest acting credit has been off the air for more than 30 years now, but fans of cult favorite Arrested Development will be happy to know he portrayed the Bluth family lawyer Bob Loblaw.
One of the more recent film titles he’s credited with is Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2, which is ranked as the third worst on IMDb’s Bottom 100 list. Most recently he was the focus of his own VH1 reality series (Scott Baio is 45..and Single) and a co-host for another.
He’s long been identified with conservatism, being a strong supporter of Ronald Reagan. His strident beliefs have landed him in some controversy, like when he said in an interview regarding President Barack Obama that he couldn’t tell “whether he’s dumb, he’s a Muslim or he’s a Muslim sympathizer, and I don’t think he’s dumb.”
He also found himself in a Twitter skirmish after posting:
“Taxes are DONE…That should feed, house & provide medical for a few lazy non working people at my expense. Have a great Monday!”
He told Fox News that he supports Trump because he, too, can only handle single-syllable words. “When he speaks I understand him,” Baio said. “He speaks like I speak.”
His Twitter feed features classy shots like this:
Antonio Sabato Jr., former General Hospital actor
Sabato is an Italian-American who was first discovered in a 1990 Janet Jackson video. That led to a significant role in the soap opera General Hospital and a multi-episode part on primetime soap Melrose Place. Before acting he worked as a Calvin Klein model.
Like Baio, he has also taken advantage of reality TV, though without having his own show. He’s appeared in Dancing with the Stars and Celebrity Wife Swap.
How about his politics? Yes, he’s quite conservative. He also claims to be quite religious.
— FOX & Friends (@foxandfriends) July 18, 2016
His Twitter feed is generally filled with things like this:
The more this country falls , the more this guy laughs & enjoys every second #potus , praying we make it through this summer
— Antonio Sabáto Jr (@antoniosabatojr) July 9, 2016
— Antonio Sabáto Jr (@antoniosabatojr) June 28, 2016
Kimberlin Brown, former The Young and the Restless actress is also speaking at the RNC.
Brown actually has the distinction of being a primetime speaker, possibly because she is a small business owner and that’s the theme of the night.
Before that, though, she was a lead actress on the soap The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful in the 1990s.
Nowadays she lives on an avocado farm with her family in California, hosts a show called Dramatic Designs on something called The Design Network and runs an “eBoutique” on MK Collab, an online fashion retailer.
Unlike Sabato Jr. and Baio, her politics are a bit less garden-variety wingnut and at least far more publicly restrained. In fact, it’s hard to discern much about her political beliefs from her public life.
But there’s little doubt that she’s a conservative if she’s speaking for Trump at the RNC. What is less clear is how the two know each other.
Willie Robertson, of the Duck Dynasty reality show
— The Trump Train (@TheTrumpTrain) July 19, 2016
Anyone who knows anything about the Duck Dyansty’s Robertson family won’t be surprised by Willie’s conservative politics. His father has come under fire for disparaging remarks about gay people in a GQ interview, which shocked approximately no one and probably contributed greatly to the narrative that the media looks to exact political correctness on conservatives. But Phil also said African Americans were “singing and happy” under Jim Crow, just in case you were ready to forgive him as an incorrigible creature of his surroundings.
The show follows the Robertsons, a Louisiana family that owns a successful duck-calling business.
Willie might actually be the kind of celebrity that some of the GOP’s base actually know and wouldn’t mind seeing up on stage at the RNC.
In his speech he went after the media as being out of touch
"It's been a rough year for the media. Humbling to be so wrong about so much for so long." — Willie Robertson #RNCinCLE
— T.J. Holmes (@tjholmes) July 19, 2016
That’s a message that will always sell at a Republican convention.