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DNC no-show list grows, and GOP crows. But are Democrats being smart?

According to Republicans, who are keeping track, 12 major Democratic politicians are planning to skip the DNC. While the convention's timing is hard on Democrats in tight races, a long list of no-shows could embarrass Obama.

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On the Republican side, there are fewer announced no-shows so far. Rep. Denny Rehberg, the Republican challenger to Senator Tester in Montana, told The Hill newspaper on Monday that he’s not going to the Republican convention in Tampa in late August.

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Part of the problem, says Ms. Duffy, is that the conventions are now being held so close to Election Day, Nov. 6, that they put candidates who are in competitive races in a bind.

“Politically, it’s smart to skip,” she says. “I don’t know that it does Claire McCaskill a whole lot of good when she has a huge fight on her hands.”

Mr. Obama is not particularly popular in Missouri, so for McCaskill, a photo op with the president likely doesn’t do her much good. McCaskill endorsed Obama in January 2008, making her one of the first senators to back him.  

The growing list of “no thank yous” also reflects the decline of national political conventions, which have been relegated to cable TV and have essentially become infomercials. Not since 1976 has either party had a convention with any suspense over who will be the presidential nominee. And increasingly, the vice presidential choice is also unveiled in advance. The parties work out their platforms at the conventions, but most politicians are concerned with their own electoral fates, not the details of a party document that goes largely unread.

Still, conventions are a good time to make connections with ideological allies and to build enthusiasm  among  delegates and other party die-hards.

But for Obama, if the list of no-shows gets much bigger, it will still be embarrassing. And it’s not just Democrats in red states who are staying home. Rep. Mark Critz of Pennsylvania, and Reps. Kathy Hochul and Bill Owens of New York, are also not coming. Among red-state Democrats, Reps. Jim Matheson of Utah and John Barrow of Georgia are not coming to Charlotte.

Among Senate candidates, North Dakota’s former attorney general, Heidi Heitkamp, is not attending the convention. She is locked in a tight race with Republican Rep. Rick Berg, a rare red state where a Democrat has a shot at winning a Senate seat.

Another Democratic no-show is Richard Carmona, the former US surgeon general, who is running for the open Senate seat in Arizona.

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