Excerpt from Michael Collins’ report on Sen. Bob Corker spending Tuesday with Donald Trump, including a campaign event in Raleigh, N.C.:
“I wasn’t going to say anything — I just came to visit,” Corker told the cheering crowd as he strolled onto the stage alongside Trump at the campaign event in Raleigh.
But the Chattanooga Republican, who is considered a potential running mate for Trump, said after spending the day with the New York real-estate mogul, his family and work associates, he had come to see why Trump is beloved by his followers.
“The reason you love him so much is because he loves you,” Corker said. “He loves you, and he wants the best for you.”
Trump returned the praise, calling Corker “a great friend of mine, somebody respected by everybody.”
Corker’s meeting with Trump, his second in just six weeks, and his subsequent appearance alongside Trump at the campaign rally will almost certainly ratchet up speculation that the senator could be joining the GOP ticket as Trump’s vice presidential pick.
…Trump is expected to announce his running mate before the Republican National Convention kicks off in Cleveland on July 18.
“If Donald Trump picks Sen. Corker as his vice presidential choice, it will strengthen the ticket and be a popular decision,” former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe said. “Bob’s record as a mayor, commissioner of finance in state government and U.S. senator is exceptional. He would be an outstanding vice president.”
Speculation that Corker might be in the running for the No. 2 spot on the GOP ticket started shortly after he told USA TODAY in early May he had offered to help Trump develop a foreign policy platform and stands ready to assist the presumptive nominee in the general election.
Later that month, Corker had a private, hour-long meeting with Trump at Trump Tower in New York. Corker described the meeting as a chance for the two to get to know each other better and said they talked about foreign policy issues.
Tuesday’s meeting also was held in New York a few hours before the campaign rally in Raleigh. Corker then flew to the campaign event with Trump.
At the campaign event, Corker said he’d had “a pretty remarkable day” with Trump.
In political campaigns, he said, candidates often “become caricatures of what the media makes them,” and that after the election “people realize they never really knew the person.”
But, he said, “it says a lot about a person to meet their family, spend time with their kids if you will and to be around the people that have worked in the Trump organization for 25 and 30 years, to see the respect they have for the person they have worked with … to see how he treats people around him.”