Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow won’t be speaking at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next week after all, despite media reports to the contrary.
Tebow posted a video on his Facebook and Twitter accounts Thursday evening, explaining he had just returned from the Philippines and that he woke up this morning to the news that he was apparently speaking at the RNC.
“It’s amazing how fast rumors fly, and that’s exactly what it is, a rumor,” said Tebow.
Tebow continues, saying that his goal is to “be able to make a difference in the biggest way possible, and if one day that’s the political realm, then that’s what I’ll do,” but right now, he sees his energy better spent on his foundation.
The Heisman Trophy winner ends the short video with a positive message:
I love our country, and I’d do anything for America, and one of the things that I love most is that it’s one nation under God. And you know what that means? It means that should matter, and God has a plan for your life, and every single person is significant. We all matter.
So let’s come together on that, let’s unite on that, let’s forget about our quarrels and our differences, and let’s come together on One Nation Under God. That should matter, that He has a plan for your life. God bless you, and God bless America.
Tebow was not on the official list of speakers circulated by the RNC early Thursday morning, but a source at the RNC who asked not to be named told The Capitolist that Tebow himself had confirmed he was speaking. The New York Times had also reported that two sources “with direct knowledge of the convention planning” had confirmed Tebow would be part of the roster.
So what happened?
With Donald Trump as the presumptive nominee, many prominent Republicans are staying far away from Cleveland next week, including former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, former Republican presidential nominees Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain, and several of Trump’s competitors this year including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio.
Trump’s campaign has been a seemingly endless parade of controversy, and when news broke that Tebow was scheduled to appear at the RNC, social media was flooded with criticisms of the announcement.
Pollster, author, and UF alumna Kristen Soltis Anderson tweeted that she was “speechless” at the news that Tebow would be speaking at the RNC, then later tweeted her obvious relief that he would not appear after all.
I love that I got the Tebow “I’m not speaking in Cleveland” video from Gator Nation friends minutes before I saw it from political reporters
— Kristen S Anderson (@KSoltisAnderson) July 15, 2016
“Dear Tim: I truly hope that you won’t be speaking at the RNC given that Trump…doesn’t stand for the very value you stand for: Love,” wrote one supporter on Tebow’s Facebook page. “You speaking there would implicitly be an endorsement of him. Please don’t let us down, for America’s sake.”
“I ask you to focus your attention on what Donald Trump actually says, does, and stands for and make the right call,” wrote Dan Wunderlich, a UF alumnus and Methodist minister who formerly served at a church in Gainesville. “Think it through, pray it through, and decline the invitation to speak in support of Donald Trump at the Republican Convention.”
There are two possibilities here: first, a miscommunication between Tebow and his representatives and the RNC about whether he was truly confirming his appearance, and second, that he did confirm, saw the backlash, and changed his mind. Either way, it’s yet another troubling headline for the Trump campaign.
This post has been updated.
Photo credit: Tim Tebow with schoolchildren on a recent trip to the Philippines, via Facebook.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.