Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) took another two cheap shots at President Trump this week, and this time conservatives in Tennessee responded by smacking down the junior senator who is up for re-election in 2018.
On Monday, Corker joined several Democratic senators in undermining President Trump’s foreign policy on Russia.
“Senior senators in both parties on Monday night reached a bipartisan deal to add new sanctions on Russia and allow Congress to disapprove of any attempt by President Donald Trump to ease penalties on Moscow, the most significant GOP-backed constraint on the White House so far this year,” Politico reported:
Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) assured reporters earlier Monday that the Russia deal would provide for congressional review of any future rollbacks of Russia sanctions, a plan pushed by Schumer as well as Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). The review language would be structured “much like we did in other places,” such as the 2015 legislation that required former President Barack Obama to submit his administration’s nuclear pact with Iran to Congress, Corker said. . .
Asked about the prospects of a veto threat from Trump, the Foreign Relations panel’s top Democrat, Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, told reporters Monday that while “there’s no administration that wants Congress interfering” with its sanctions policy, “I think we’ll have the support of the administration” for any bipartisan Russia deal that might pass this week.
Then on Tuesday, Corker launched into a gratuitous attack on Trump’s budget cuts for foreign aid, asserting, without any supporting evidence, the cuts were merely designed as a distraction from failure to cut entitlements. As the Washington Examiner reported:
President Trump proposed deep spending cuts to the State Department and foreign aid in order to appear fiscally responsible while ignoring entitlement spending, a top Senate Republican charged Tuesday.
“This president took an inordinate amount of cuts in this particular area to demonstrate that he was trying to address fiscal issues because, in fairness, [he’s] unwilling to address all the other issues that are driving spending so much,” Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said during a Tuesday hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
He spoke just before Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was set to testify there about the State Department budget.
Corker’s two most recent attacks on President Trump are the latest in a long string of criticisms of the Republican president, the most notable of which came last month when he claimed that President Trump was “out of control” and “the White House is in a downward spiral.”
Corker, who is up for re-election in 2018, is taking a huge risk with his constant criticisms of President Trump, who remains very popular with Republican primary voters. A recent Tennessee Star Poll found that 86 percent of Republican primary voters approve of President Trump’s job performance, while only 11 percent disapprove.
In contrast, Corker himself is extremely vulnerable. Only 41 percent of likely Republican primary voters think he deserves another term, according to the recent Tennessee Star Poll. An equal 41 percent want to give someone else a chance.
In one theoretical one-on-one matchup, Corker is in a statistical tie in a race against Rep. Marsha Blackburn in the August 2018 Republican primary, 41 to 39.
In contrast to Corker’s constant criticisms of Trump, Blackburn has consistently voiced support for President Trump and his agenda.
Two other potential challengers to Corker in 2018 blasted him for his lack of support for President Trump.
“It concerns me that the Senate Republicans are teaming up with the Democrats to restrict and pre-empt President Trump’s foreign policy. We didn’t see these actions taken to tie the hands of President Obama,” State Senator Mark Green (R-Clarksville) tells The Star.
“The Senate Democrats have done nothing to help the President resolve the disastrous effects of Obamacare, relieve the tax and regulatory burdens on American companies, control our borders, or protect our citizens from the increasing threat of radical Islamic terrorists coming to our shores,” Green adds.
“Suddenly partnering with them to tie the President’s hands sends the absolute wrong message,” Green concludes.
Former State Rep. Joe Carr also takes exception to Corker’s recent comments.
“Senator Corker once again decides that he is going to publicly chastise President Trump and side with Democrat Senators Patrick Leahy, and Robert Menendez along with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham this time by opposing President Trumps budget proposal to cut a bloated State Department Budget,” Carr tells The Star.
“What was most egregious about Chairman Corker’s remarks was his inability to even read the budget recommendations for more than ‘five minutes’ before declaring ‘it was a waste of time.’ The only thing that is a waste of time is the time Bob Corker spends imitating a Republican U.S. Senator from Tennessee. I think Bob Corker’s constant opposition to President Trump illustrates perfectly why his re-elect number in Tennessee is 41 percent,” Carr concludes.
Potential 2018 challengers are not the only Tennesseans baffled by Corker’s non-stop attacks on President Trump.
“The recent Tennessee Star Poll makes it clear that Senator Corker’s critical comments about President Donald Trump do not play well with likely Tennessee Republican primary voters who Senator Corker will presumably answer to next August,” media consultant and political analyst Steve Gill tells The Star.
“Trump’s popularity in the state remains very high, and siding with Senator Chuck Schumer and the Democrats against the President is not going to help Corker in a GOP primary,” Gill adds.
“The Senator’s recent comments about the President are as politically reckless as dancing around a blazing fire with a bucket of gasoline in your hands and he’s likely to get burned very badly if he keeps it up,” Gill concludes.
A Capitol Hill insider thinks Corker is making a serious political mistake.
“I have been around Bob Corker for over thirty years. Anyone in Washington, D.C. will tell you that when he is challenged, he immediately goes on the attack,” the insider says.
“That may have worked before President Trump came along, when Bob was the Republican foreign policy ‘top dog.’ But now he has moved several places down the foreign affairs pecking order and this nipping at the president makes him look more like and ‘attack chihuahua’ than a top dog,” the insider adds.
“It’s like he is going out of his way to take shots at a man who overwhelmingly carried nearly every county in Tennessee. If he keeps it up, he is going to generate a serious primary opponent for himself, the insider concludes.