Corker won’t waste his time speaking to GOP convention (or answering racism questions)

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, who earlier told Donald Trump he wasn’t interested in becoming vice presidential nominee, has now declined a chance to speak at the Republican National Convention, reports the Times-Free Press. But he is praising Trump’s selection of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as running mate.

“I think he’s a great choice,” the Tennessee Republican said. “He served in Congress for a number of years, has been a governor and has those executive skills.

“When people think about a VP decision they say, ‘Is this person capable of being president if something happens?” Corker said. “He is very capable of doing that. I’m very happy for Pence, and I think he is really excited about this.”

Corker, a former Chattanooga mayor, was under consideration by Trump but withdrew his name July 6, saying he felt unsuited to the role. His comments Friday came after a speech to the National Association of Secretaries of State.

He also said he won’t deliver a speech at the Republican National Convention that begins Monday in Cleveland.

“To get up in front of a scrillion people, none of whom are listening to you, and deliver a telepromptered speech is probably not my best use of time,” said Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “I am very involved. We have ambassadors from all over the world that are going to be there. I’m speaking to them. I’m speaking to numbers of groups.”

Note: See also Cari Wade Gervin’s commentary on reporters’ Friday encounter with Corker. It includes some block quotes, centered on the Nashville Scene reporter’s questioning the senator on racism in the Trump campaign — which he declined to answer. Excerpt:

Gervin: You don’t think that a Republican president who is supported by the Klan is, you know —that’s problematic? You don’t think so?

Corker: I’m not responding to your statements, which are very leading, I think.

Gervin: So do you or do you not think that it’s problematic that the Klan thinks that the Republican presidential nominee is a white supremacist?

Corker: I have no knowledge of what the groups that you’re talking about think or know or who they’re supporting. I have no knowledge. What I do know is my decision about entertaining being a vice-president was based on what I just said.