Donald Trump has turned down a plum speaking role at this year's Republican National Convention (RNC), Newsmax reports.
After weeks of speculation about how RNC organizers would handle the outspoken birther and supporter of GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, a "source with knowledge of convention plans" says an offer for a prime-time speaking slot was made to Trump. According to Newsmax, Trump rejected it due to prior commitments concerning "global business pursuits." Trump, who last year planned to moderate an ill-fated GOP presidential debate sponsored by Newsmax, later tweeted a link to the story.
Trump will still be attending the convention, which begins on Aug. 27. in Tampa, Fla., despite his uncharacteristic decision to reject the limelight. According to Newsmax's source, convention-goers can expect a big “surprise” from the billionaire, who will already be in Florida accepting his "Statesman of the Year" award from the Republican Party of Sarasota County.
Michael Cohen, an aide to Trump, later told ABC News that Trump would be playing a "major role" at the convention.
“While I am not at liberty to disclose the specifics of Mr. Trump’s time at the RNC, I can say he will be playing a major role and was happy to honor Gov. Romney’s request to participate in convention events in Tampa,” he said. “This is something unique and interesting that will be memorable for the convention-goers as well as those across the nation watching from home."
Trump's decision to decline the speaking invitation may come as a surprise to many, given his enthusiastic and confident tone regarding the RNC over the past few weeks.
“They like what I say,” he said recently of Republicans. “I’m a very popular guy, as crazy as it might sound. It’s nice to be loved.”
Trump isn't the only high-profile conservative who won't be taking on a speaking role at this year's RNC. Former presidential candidates Newt Gingrich, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.), Herman Cain and Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), among others, have all been left off the bill.