Politics Corker Reconsiders Retirement, but He Must Win Over Trump to Do It

03:20  14 february  2018
03:20  14 february  2018 Source:   nytimes.com

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After announcing retirement , Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee is having second thoughts. But without President Trump ’s support, he is unlikely to win the nomination. Just over four months after Mr. Corker , upon declaring he would retire , unleashed a biting series of attacks on Mr. Trump , the

Reports surfaced over the weekend, first by CNN, that some forces within the GOP were prodding Corker to reconsider over concerns that an open-seat race could deliver an upset Democratic victory in this year's midterm I didn't try to tell him what to do , and I won 't try and tell him what to do now."

a man sitting on a table: Advisers to Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, say he and President Trump have patched up their relationship. © Eric Thayer for The New York Times Advisers to Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, say he and President Trump have patched up their relationship.

WASHINGTON — Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee has been reconsidering his decision to retire this year, but Mr. Corker’s hopes for retaining his seat are running into a potentially insurmountable object: President Trump.

Just over fourth months after Mr. Corker, upon declaring he would retire, unleashed a biting series of attacks on Mr. Trump, the president is refusing to bless his friend-turned-foe’s effort to re-enter the Republican primary race.

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MUST WATCH. Corker mulling over running for re-election 00:39. In the months since Corker announced he would retire -- and publicly feuded with President Donald Trump -- the GOP Corker 's second thoughts. Corker is torn about what to do , a source familiar with his thinking said.

But Corker said Trump has repeatedly urged him to run again. Bob Corker is a guy who wakes up every day and wants to do the right thing for the people of Tennessee and the country." Corker has won praise from Democrats and Republicans for his leadership in the chamber and his retirement

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Instead, in a telephone conversation last week, Mr. Trump offered encouragement to Representative Marsha Blackburn, a conservative lawmaker and White House ally who has emerged as the favorite to win the Republican nomination for Mr. Corker’s seat, according to three Republicans familiar with the call.

Mr. Trump’s West Wing advisers, their memories still fresh from Mr. Corker’s jibes, are urging the president to resist entreaties from the senator and a handful of his colleagues who worry that the seat could slip from Republican hands in November. They are showing Mr. Trump polling that indicates how steep of a climb Mr. Corker would face in a primary campaign.

If Mr. Trump does not change course, his silence could effectively doom any hopes Mr. Corker has for seeking a third term. The president is highly popular among Tennessee Republicans and may be the only person who could reverse Mr. Corker’s standing with primary voters, who have soured on him since he portrayed Mr. Trump as a juvenile in need of day care, whose instability may push the country into World War III.

Sen. Bob Corker is standing by his decision not to seek re-election, a senior adviser says

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Corker says he liked parts of Trump ’s speech because he thought he heard “a degree of realism stepping back into U.S. foreign policy,” but since he took over at Foreign Relations Corker ’s own realism has been notably absent.

Retiring Sen. Bob Corker is “listening” to Republicans urging him to run for reelection, according to a person close to him , a development that would quell anxiety among Republicans over losing a must - win seat to Democrats this fall.

a person standing on a stage: Representative Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee at the Republican National Convention in 2016 in Cleveland. © Jim Young/Reuters Representative Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee at the Republican National Convention in 2016 in Cleveland.

And without Mr. Trump’s direct intervention, Ms. Blackburn is highly unlikely to bow to Mr. Corker.

“Marsha Blackburn is not getting out of this race regardless of who gets in,” said Ward Baker, the Nashville-area lawmaker’s chief strategist.

Further, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, has rebuffed Mr. Corker by telling him that he must secure the president’s support to re-enter the race, according to Republicans familiar with the conversation, a rare act of political deference that suggests he is uneasy about driving Ms. Blackburn out of the primary race.

But Mr. Corker and some of his Senate allies are aggressively working to win over the White House, embarking on what one West Wing official described as a sudden charm offensive. The senator has avoided any criticism of Mr. Trump in recent weeks and on Monday met with Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter.

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Catholic School Threatens to Expel Student Over Sticker. Corker May Be Reconsidering Retirement . Obama Market vs. Trump Market. "There are a lot of blogs and news sites claiming to understand politics, but only a few actually do .

Corker won his 2012 Senate election easily with 65 per cent of the vote. Trump tweeted Monday that Corker , who has announced his retirement as of next year, 'couldn't get Asked if he would support Donald Trump in the future, Corker said: 'Let's just put it this way, I would not do that again.

Mr. Trump’s political advisers, getting wind of the meeting, scrambled to brief Ms. Trump and her own staff about Mr. Corker’s renewed interest in running again and his desire for the president’s support, according to a Republican official. An aide to Mr. Corker said Ms. Trump requested the meeting.

More broadly, Mr. Corker’s advisers say he and Mr. Trump have patched up their relationship and the senator is simply hearing out those who would like him to remain in the Senate, a decision he technically does not have to make until Tennessee’s filing deadline in early April.

“In recent days, people across Tennessee have reached out to Senator Corker with concerns about the outcome of this election because they believe it could determine control of the Senate and the future of our agenda,” said Micah Johnson, Mr. Corker’s spokeswoman.

Mr. Corker is not the only Republican who could shake up a closely watched Senate race. Representative Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, who had been heavily courted by Mr. Trump and other leading Republicans but decided against a bid, is now signaling that he may mount a bid after all against Senator Heidi Heitkamp, North Dakota’s freshman Democrat.

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Corker ’s retirement is expected to set off a scramble among Republicans to try to succeed him . Rep. Marsha Blackburn Marsha Blackburn Overnight Tech: Official resigns, employee fired over Corker , who first won election in 2006, has a reputation as a dealmaker — particularly on foreign policy.

But I have not decided what I’m going to do in the future.” Corker , 65, serves as the chair of the Senate Trump and Corker still remain in contact, despite their disagreements over the president’s response Trump Must Have Read The Strzok Page Texts Because He Just Dropped A Bombshell.

If Mr. Cramer’s potential change of heart is lifting Republicans spirits, the party is now uneasy about the prospect of having one too many Republicans in Tennessee.

Mr. Corker’s hopes for a rapprochement with Mr. Trump illustrate the degree to which loyalty to the president is becoming a central litmus test in Republican politics. And that he might consider a reconciliation with a senator who only a few months ago portrayed him as an unruly toddler underscores that there are no permanent friends or enemies to Mr. Trump.

But party officials overseeing the midterms have little appetite for a bloody primary campaign in Tennessee.

Democrats have cleared their field for Phil Bredesen, a wealthy former two-term governor and mayor of Nashville whose prospects in an increasingly conservative state would markedly improve if he faced a Republican limping into a general election.

Further, in a season full of disappointments across the Senate Republican map, Ms. Blackburn has been a bright spot, raising $2 million in the final quarter of last year, contributing to other candidates and uniting most of the party’s factions.

“She is raising more money and doing more than any other candidate in country,” said Josh Holmes, a Republican consultant and adviser to Mr. McConnell.

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Bob Corker to reconsider his retirement plans. Public polls show Blackburn is a heavy favorite over former Rep. …“The message that I’d want to give to the folks trying to entice Corker into running: You shouldn’t do it , he ’s gonna lose,” said Club President David McIntosh.

It also comes as Congress is diving into tax reform, a must - win issue for the GOP if it hopes to When Corker later called Trump to tell him that he had decided to retire — a decision Corker made on So disappointed, in fact, that early last week, the president called Corker to ask him to reconsider his

Ms. Blackburn, who was already facing former Representative Stephen Fincher in the primary, is signaling that if she is forced to take on Mr. Corker she will wield her gender as a political weapon. That would raise a delicate issue for a Senate Republican caucus that includes just five women in its ranks.

“Anyone who thinks Marsha Blackburn can’t win a general election is just a plain sexist pig,” said Andrea Bozek, a spokeswoman for Ms. Blackburn, adding, “We aren’t worried about these ego-driven, tired old men.”

That is an unmistakable reference to a bloc of establishment-aligned Tennessee Republicans who believe Ms. Blackburn’s conservative politics and hard-charging style may turn off some voters and make her vulnerable against the centrist and low-key Mr. Bredesen.

Tom Ingram, a Republican strategist and a longtime friend of Mr. Corker’s, argued that Republicans could imperil the seat and their one-seat majority if they do not rally around an incumbent who has already won the state twice.

“It’s a dicey race with an unproven statewide candidate against Phil Bredesen,” Mr. Ingram said. “If Corker is the nominee, it’s not in play.”

Fueling the anxieties of some Tennessee Republicans is the openness some in the party’s donor wing have toward backing Mr. Bredesen. Concerns about such defections cropped up again this week when an invitation to a $5,400-per-couple Bredesen fund-raiser hosted by the widow of the former Nashville Republican powerhouse Ted Welch began circulating among Republicans.

Such talk induces eye-rolling among a younger generation of Republicans in Tennessee.

“Every Republican in Tennessee outside the walls of the Belle Meade Country Club believes Marsha is a heavy favorite against anybody who might get in that primary,” said Brad Todd, a Republican consultant raised in the state who is not aligned in the Senate race.

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