Category Archives: Bob Corker

Haslam hosts private fundraiser for Rubio at executive residence

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam hosted a private fundraiser for Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s campaign for reelection at the state’s executive residence Monday, reports The Tennessean.

The event, which Rubio attended, was co-hosted by Tennessee’s Republican U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker. Corker was present for the fundraiser, but Alexander had to return to Washington D.C. from East Tennessee on Monday and was not in attendance, said an aide for the senator.

Haslam and Alexander endorsed Rubio’s Republican presidential primary bid days ahead of Tennessee’s March primary, just as Donald Trump had started to solidify himself as the GOP frontrunner. Their help fell short, however, as Rubio won only one of Tennessee’s 95 counties. Trump won the state in a landslide.

Rubio, after losing his presidential bid, opted to run for reelection and is now looking to stave off Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy, a two-term Florida congressman.

The Rubio fundraiser marks the second campaign fundraiser that Haslam has held in recent months at the governor’s mansion, which is located in Nashville’s Oak Hill neighborhood.

Haslam in July hosted a fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Tennessee, ahead of her primary election against challenger Joe Carr.

Tennessee state Democrats criticized the governor for holding that event, arguing that the taxpayer-funded governor’s home is not a place where campaign events should be held.

Corker seeks delay of Saudi Arabia lawsuit vote

Two leading Republican voices on national security — Senators Bob Corker and Lindsey Graham — want to postpone a vote on whether to override President Barack Obama’s promised veto of legislation to let families of 9/11 terrorist attack victims sue Saudi Arabia, reports Bloomberg News.

The delay would give senators more time to consider the likelihood its enactment would “backfire on us” because “once we create the opportunity for U.S. citizens to sue another government we also open the door for the same thing to happen to us,” said Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Corker and Graham are raising concerns about the foreign policy ramifications of the legislation even though it sailed through both chambers and was sent to the president a day after the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest has said Obama will reject the legislation, though he hasn’t announced the timing of the planned veto.

Corker said in an interview that he hopes “the veto will come back after we are gone” so the Senate doesn’t vote on overriding it until after “a couple-months cooling period takes place.” The Senate could leave town by the end of next week if it completes work on a stopgap spending bill to fund the government when the fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

Corker and Graham are at odds with many of their colleagues in both parties including Republican Whip John Cornyn, who has pressed for a pre-election vote. A co-sponsor of the bill, Cornyn challenged Obama in a floor speech not to “leave the families dangling” and promptly issue a veto to enable a vote before Congress adjourns this month to go home and campaign.

Corker said a delay may allow the Senate to consider changing the bill. “Having some time go by could end up causing some constructive things to occur,” the Tennessee Republican said. “Might not, but I’m certain that by next Friday that won’t happen.”

South Carolina’s Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who also heads the Appropriations State-Foreign Operations Subcommittee, which writes the spending bill for U.S. embassies and diplomatic programs, said he wants to “buy some time here” to “make the bill more palatable but also be in the interest of the families.”

Graham said that the legislation threatens U.S. relations.

“The Saudis let me know in no uncertain terms that they see this bill as a hostile act,” he said. “I want to make sure that the families are taken care of here, but I have come to the conclusion that the person to blame for 9/11 is bin Laden.”

Note/Update: Sen. Corker’s staff has sent along this additional comment since this post first appeared: “Unless the White House offers a solution that appropriately addresses both sovereign immunity issues and the concerns of 9/11 families, the veto override will likely be overwhelming.”

Poll finds Alexander, Corker with 51% approval

Tennessee U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker both have 51 percent approval ratings among their constituents, according to national polling on the popularity of all 100 U.S. senators by Morning Consult.

Alexander had a 30 percent disapproval rating; Corker was at 29 percent. They thus avoided listing among the top ten most popular senators among their constituents as well as the ten least popular.

Excerpt from the news release:

In the latest edition of Morning Consult’s Senator Approval Rankings, Bernie Sanders is more popular than ever among Vermonters. The progressive independent who gave Hillary Clinton a major headache in the presidential primary has an 87 percent approval rating in his home state. That’s a sizable jump from his already high 80 percent approval rating in April, when Morning Consult compiled favorability ratings collected throughout the beginning of the year.

Based on interviews with almost 72,000 registered voters since May, Morning Consult crunched how constituents feel about their home-state senators… Sanders maintains his spot at the top of the list for most popular senator, a distinction that appears long lasting. He was at 83 percent approval last year, and no other senator had a higher rating.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) retains the distinction of the least popular senator among his home-state constituents, with a disapproval rating of 51 percent. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has soured with Silver State voters and is now the third-least popular senator, with a 43 percent disapproval rating. That’s up two spots from earlier this year.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) retains her slot as second-most popular senator, but her favorability in Maine (69 percent) has dropped 10 percentage points from the first few months of the year, before she declined to endorse Donald Trump for president.

Florida Republican Marco Rubio’s favorability has barely changed (from 45 percent to 46 percent) since the incumbent senator changed his mind about not running for re-election and cruised to victory in the primary after most of his opponents dropped out.

Note: The full release with a list of all senators, along with top ten and bottom ten listings, is HERE.

Corker hosts TN fundraisers for out-of-state Republicans

Fretting over the possibility of U.S. Senate Republicans losing their majority in Washington, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker is sponsoring two political fundraisers for embattled out-of-state incumbents, reports the Times-Free Press.

Corker plans to host an event for Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., on Sept. 23 at his Chattanooga home, according to an email sent to potential donors by the Tennessee lawmaker’s fundraiser, Kim Kaegi.

And Corker has enlisted Republican Gov. Bill Haslam to allow another fundraiser to take place on Sept. 26 at the governor’s mansion here in Nashville (to benefit Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.)

…Tickets for “hosts” at each of the noon-time luncheon events are $2,700, while participants pay $1,000 per ticket. The price tag is $5,400 for couples.

“As we enter the last 67 days before the November election,” Kaegi’s email says, “the importance of maintaining a Senate Majority has become a central focus. Senator Corker has committed to hosting two colleagues later this month in TN: Kelly Ayotte at his home in Chattanooga and Marco Rubio at the Executive Residence in Nashville.

“Whether or not you can attend in person, we hope you will consider participating with a financial gift,” Kaegi’s note continues. “Attendance starting at $1,000. The individual giving limit for each is $2,700 per person/$5,400 per couple. Any amount is welcome. Please send checks made payable to each candidate to me at the address below, and we will forward to the campaigns with a note from Senator Corker. Thank you and have a great Labor Day Weekend. – Kim.”

Kaegi also says others “to consider supporting” include U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., with a “Nashville event date pending,” as well as Republican Joe Heck, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

Kaegi is the go-to fundraiser for top Tennessee Republican officeholders with a roster of clients including Corker, Haslam and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

Corker criticizes Trump comments, still backs him

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker took issue today with GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s assertions that President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are “the founders” of ISIS, according to the Times-Free Press.

“To say that an elected official in our country founded a terrorist organization like ISIS is taking the facts that took place in 2011 and carrying that far too far,” the Chattanooga Republican told reporters following a speech (at Franklin) to the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation.

Corker earlier noted that Obama and Democratic nominee and former Secretary of State Clinton had made a “number of decisions” in 2011 that helped fuel the rise of the Islamic State, such as failing to take action in the Syrian civil war, as well as providing “no follow up” in Libya, where, he said, the government was “decapitated.”

“That certainly created some conditions for ISIS to flourish,” said Corker, who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Corker also strongly criticized Trump’s remarks on Tuesday in which he said Second Amendment supporters may be able to stop Clinton from naming Supreme Court justices who could weaken gun rights.

Some interpreted the remarks as a threat to Clinton. Trump strongly denied that, but a number of Republican officials cringed.

“I think that those type of comments had no place in our public discourse and was disappointed to hear” them, Corker said.

Nonetheless, Corker, who was under consideration as Trump’s running mate before withdrawing his name from consideration, said he continues to back Trump.

“My consistent comment has been that I plan to support the Republican nominee, and that’s the same thing I’ve said for six months,” Corker said. “No differentiation on that.”

Corker aide joins Trump transition team (prelude to cabinet post?)

Two senior Republicans close to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) have joined the Trump transition team, including one of Corker’s staffers, drastically improving the senator’s chances for a Cabinet post in a potential Donald Trump administration.

So reports the Washington Post’s Josh Rogin. Further:

Corker recently approved a temporary leave of absence for John Rader, counsel for Corker’s committee, so that he can work on presidential appointments for the transition team, which is headed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Corker has been rumored to be seeking an appointment as either treasury secretary or secretary of state.

“John is taking a leave of absence to assist in the transition, which is an effort sanctioned by the federal government for both campaigns,” Corker’s chief of staff, Todd Womack, told me.

Rader, who has worked for Corker since last year, previously worked as an aide for Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R). Three senior Republicans told me he will be the Trump transition team’s deputy director for presidential appointments, working directly under another Tennessee political figure, William Hagerty. (Note: In Tennessee, he served as Haslam’s first commissioner for the Department of Economic and Community Development.)

Hagerty was director of presidential appointments for the Mitt Romney presidential transition team in 2012 and asked Rader to help him this time around. Corker’s office did not put Rader up for the job.

Pursuant to a 2010 law signed by President Obama, both presidential nominees receive federal support and funding for their transition preparations. Hagerty and Rader would have a huge role in selecting and vetting candidates for more than 4,000 presidential appointments Trump would need to make if he is elected.

…Sources close to Corker told me that his first choice is to be treasury secretary and his second choice is to be secretary of state. Corker told the Tennessean last month that he could see himself in either of those roles.

An ‘oops’ and other TN doings at GOP convention

A transcript of state Sen. Mae Beavers, chair of Tennessee’s delegation to the Republican National Convention, in casting the state’s presidential delegate votes on Tuesday, as reported by The Tennessean.

“Madame secretary, the Volunteer state, the state with no income tax, a budget surplus, and a balanced budget. A state that is in the top five for jobs growth, number one in auto-manufacturing, with a Republican Governor, Two Republican US Senators, seven Republican congressmen, and a two-thirds majority in the state house and state senate.

“Our pro-life state, proudly casts our votes: 16 votes for Senator Ted Cruz, 19 votes for Senator Marco Rubio, and 33 votes to ‘Make America Great Again’ with Donald J Trump.”

Actually, the Rubio total was wrong. He had nine Tennessee delegates; not 19. … The leaders of the convention’s roll call process asked the Tennessee delegation to repeat their votes and Beavers read the correct totals the second time around.
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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.

So maybe it’ll be Secretary of State Corker now?

Excerpt from Michael Collins’ report on Sen. Bob Corker bowing out as a potential Donald Trump running mate, but leaving the door open for other endeavors:

“When it comes to being a vice president, it’s a highly, highly political role,” Corker said. “I view myself as sort of a policy person.”

Corker, 63, said his decision to withdraw from consideration as vice president opened up “a candid conversation” with Trump and his team about policy and other roles he might play. He would not say whether they discussed the possibility of him serving as secretary of state.

Asked if he would consider working in a Trump administration, Corker said he shares the same philosophy of public service as Howard Baker Jr., a former Tennessee senator who served as President Ronald Reagan’s last chief of staff and, later, as U.S. ambassador to Japan.

“If the president calls you to serve, certainly it’s your responsibility to sit down and strongly consider that,” Corker said. “But to try to respond to conjecture (about a specific position) at this point is just not appropriate.”

…Corker said he doesn’t yet know if he will be making other campaign appearances with Trump.

“We’ll see,” he said. “I’ve got a job to do here; I’ve got things to do back home. But I will say yesterday was a very enjoyable day, and it certainly was a privilege to be in the position to see the internal workings of the campaign, but also to witness Trump in person and see what has been happening and to see (the crowd’s) response.”

Corker said he has been offered a speaking role at the Republican National Convention that begins July 18 in Cleveland, but details still are being worked out.

Further Corker commentary from the Times-Free Press:
“I’m chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today. I love that, and I appreciate the citizens of our state allowing me to do that.

“At the same time,” Corker added, “if at some point serving in an administration was something that became an opportunity, there’s just better ways for someone like me to serve than being a candidate for vice president.”

Corker said there “are people who are better suited for that kind of thing [vice president] and I think I’m far better suited for other kinds of roles if I were to serve in an administration.”

…Dr. Bruce Oppenheimer, a Vanderbilt University political science professor,… asked, what was the upside for Corker in being on a ticket, should Trump lose, other than getting “credit, I guess, for being a good soldier? But my sense is he didn’t have anything to gain and everything to lose from running.”

Corker, whom some see as harboring presidential aspirations himself, could face the problem No. 2 candidates on losing presidential tickets face when running in their own right, Oppenheimer said. In modern U.S. history, they don’t seem to get far, he said.

Corker tells Trump ‘no, thanks’ on potential VP nomination

CINCINNATI (AP) — Celebrating new success in fundraising, Donald Trump says he took in $51 million for his campaign and allied Republicans in recent weeks, a huge jump from his previously lackluster figures though still well shy of Hillary Clinton’s money machine.

Trump also appeared to be moving closer to choosing a vice presidential running mate Wednesday, though two senators who had been under consideration said, “No, thanks.”

Bob Corker of Tennessee and Joni Ernst of Iowa dropped out of the running, Corker telling The Associated Press that “there are better ways for me to serve” and that he cherished his position as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Yet another potential running mate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, appeared with Trump Wednesday night in Ohio.

Trump celebrated his campaign fundraising even before announcing it, tweeting Tuesday night: “Raised a lot of money for the Republican Party. There will be a big gasp when the figures are announced in the morning. Lots of support! Win.”
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