Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) may have thought his life would get easier after he announced that he would not seek reelection in this November’s midterm elections.
Now he finds himself, however, brow-beaten by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for his positive comments about a long-time friend who is running to replace him as Tennessee’s latest senator, former governor Phil Bredesen.
“He was a very good mayor, very good governor, very good businessperson,” as Corker described the candidate to The New York Times, adding that Bredesen “would be successful at anything that he did and is someone I consider to be very thoughtful.”
The only problem is that Bredesen is the Democratic candidate for Senator, running against Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), a notorious tea-partier who has denied that humans affect climate change and who also sponsored the first “birther bill” in the House to force then President Obama to release his birth certificate.
According to Mother Jones magazine, Senator Corker’s praise for Blackburn’s opponent earned him a “tongue-lashing” from McConnell and prompted Corker to tweet that he would be donating money to Blackburn’s campaign and that he would indeed be voting for her rather than his good friend.
While Senator Corker’s politically-correct backtracking may have been easy for him to do while he was simply making a texted announcement on social media, he had a more difficult time defending his apparent change of heart under the glare of the lights in CNN’s studios today.
Appearing on the news network’s State Of the Union this morning, Senator Corker faced an awkward moment when host Dana Bash questioned him on his positive comments about the Democratic candidate and about the backlash he received from the Senate Majority Leader.
The Senator hemmed and hawed as he dutifully recited his donation of the maximum allowable amount to the Republican candidate and that he intended to vote for her, but tellingly he never once even mentioned her by name in the course of the exchange.
When Bash asked Senator Corker directly why the people of Tennessee should vote for Blackburn, he stumbled for any concrete reason outside of the optimistic prediction that her first vote in the Senate, if elected, would be to put Senator Mitch McConnell back in the Senate Majority Leader position.
When told by Dash that his remarks didn’t exactly sound like a ringing endorsement, Corker admitted that he was at a loss for words, chuckling and saying that he’s “supporting the nominee” and that he’s “worked with the nominee for some time” before giving up and declaring that he didn’t “know what else to say.”
Senator Corker’s recalcitrance in supplying a more robust defense of is own party’s candidate seems to be a reflection of the mood of the Tennesee electorate, where Bredesen leads Representative Blackburn by 10 points in the latest polls.
You can watch Senator Corker’s uncomfortable interview for yourself in this clip from CNN’s State Of the Union below.
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