By KELSEY WALSH, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — Though Republicans are hoping to maintain Senate control this November, several GOP members were notably absent from the party’s four-day convention.
Political conventions are a way to showcase the party’s strongest candidates. Many times, former candidates who ran for president, and top committee members, join together to support the party’s message — despite their individual differences.
This year, the Republican National Convention consisted mostly of Trump’s White House team and immediate family.
ABC News reached out to 12 incumbent senators from battleground states and received varied responses regarding their participation in the convention — or lack there of.
Still, there is a lack of clarity on whether the senators had hoped to participate and were not asked, or declined the request from the RNC or Trump campaign.
Last week, two out of 23 senators up for reelection participated in the RNC. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Joni Ernst, of Iowa, gave prime time speeches while other incumbents made appearances at the White House South Lawn on Thursday evening for the president’s acceptance speech. The majority of the senators, however, failed to show up.
Throughout the campaign cycle, Republicans have suggested that Democrats are not unified in their vision for the campaign — but the lack of contribution during the RNC could suggest that Republicans may not be as united as they believe they are.
At the RNC, McConnell talked about the stakes of the general election and the need to stabilize the Senate.
Speaking from Kentucky, he emphasized that the election is “incredibly consequential for middle America.”
He wrapped up his remarks by saying: “The stakes have never been higher, which is why I’m asking you to support Republican Senate candidates across the country, and reelect my friend, President Donald Trump.”
On Wednesday evening, Ernst approached her speaking time by talking directly about her state and praising Trump.
Originally, the RNC was scheduled to take place in North Carolina, but instead, the GOP shifted gears due to the coronavirus pandemic and only held the business portion in Charlotte, North Carolina on Monday morning.
To kick off the week, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence attended events in North Carolina, but the state’s Sen. Thom Tillis was not present.
Tillis’ first appearance at the convention was Thursday on the South Lawn.
To celebrate the moment and show supporters he was there, Tillis tweeted a photo of himself wearing a mask on the White House South Lawn, but shortly after he posted the photograph, images captured by bystanders showed that he did not keep his mask on throughout the evening.
The incident forced Tillis to issue an apology, as his Democratic opponent, Cal Cunningham, spoke on the controversy.
Tillis’ campaign did not respond to ABC News’ multiple requests for comment. It remains unclear whether the senator was asked to participate during the convention week and chose not to, or he was not asked.
Sen. Kelly Loeffler, of Georgia, also attended the convention and was present during the president’s speech. But, she did not speak.
Sen. Susan Collins, of Maine, continued her tradition of not participating in the convention. She did not make plans, and according to a spokesperson, she was not asked to participate.
“Instead, she prefers to spend her time during election years on the campaign trail here in Maine, visiting small employers and their workers, walking Main Street and talking to Mainers face to face. And this year, considering the current health and economic crisis caused by the pandemic, that interaction is particularly important,” Sen. Kevin Kelley, of Connecticut, told ABC News.
Sen. Martha McSally, of Arizona, had a number of commitments on the week of the RNC, but according to South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster’s communications director, Caroline Anderegg, she was invited to participate.
Although McSally was not physically present at the White House on the final day, she did send a video message and wrote a special convention op-ed for Fox News.
Sen. David Perdue, of Georgia, was also not at the White House during the RNC, as he had a routine knee procedure the same week. According to his spokesperson, John Burke, the procedure went well and the senator will be back on the campaign trail soon.
Perdue participated in video remarks and the campaign indicated that he was asked by the RNC to participate.
Sen. John Cornyn, of Texas, Sen. Cory Gardner, of Colorado, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, did not comment when reached out to by ABC News.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.