Bush and Cheney are skipping the big event because of the serious threat to the Gulf Coast that Hurricane Gustav poses, but many other prominent GOPers never planned on making the trip to Minnesota, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Perhaps the biggest name of all other Republican non-attendees—California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger—had vowed that he wouldn't attend if a state budget dispute wasn't settled. The budget is still in limbo, and Schwarzenegger remains in California.
The Times reports that at least 10 incumbent senators won't attend the RNC, and only three incumbents in tight reelection races planned to be there.
Even Minnesota's own Republican Senator Norm Coleman—who is locked in a tough reelection battle against former comedian Al Franken—admitted to Minnesota Public Radio, "If the convention wasn't in St. Paul, I wouldn't be at the convention."
Though most of the senators who aren't attending cited scheduling conflicts, it's clear that many decided it was better to stay home than to be branded so prominently with the Republican Party affiliation, which remains unpopular nationally.