WASHINGTON -- Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) is no longer entertaining the idea of becoming presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump's vice presidential running mate, according to a Washington Post interview with the senator published Wednesday.
“There are people far more suited for being a candidate for vice president, and I think I’m far more suited for other types of things,” Corker told the Post, after meeting with Trump campaign officials in New York and participating in a joint rally with the candidate in North Carolina.
Corker, 63, was one of the finalists for the position and submitted tax returns to the Trump campaign for vetting. A respected GOP official, Corker would have added badly needed foreign policy chops to the ticket. He spent most of his life in business, and is among the wealthiest members of Congress. He was first elected to the Senate in 2006, and has garnered a reputation as a deal-maker with an eye toward compromise.
As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he has been a vocal critic of President Barack Obama's foreign policy. Although he initially staked out a more neutral position on the administration's nuclear deal with Iran, including drafting compromise legislation that would have allowed a vote of disapproval on the accord, Corker has since joined his Republican colleagues in denouncing it.
Bucking many in his party and the position of its presumptive nominee, Corker last year expressed faith in the extensive vetting process of Syrian refugees who are slated to enter the United States in coming months. Trump, on the other hand, has said Syrian refugees could be a "Trojan horse" for terrorists and has called for a blanket ban on all Muslims from entering the U.S.
Corker surprised many people in April when he praised a major foreign policy address given by Trump, calling it "very thoughtful" and commending it for "challenging the foreign policy establishment that has been here for so long." His remarks helped boost the Manhattan businessman's credibility following a heated fight with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), his former rival to the nomination.
Corker's background likely met Trump's stated preference for a ticket mate who could ably navigate the corridors of power in Washington. But he is largely unknown across the country, and is not known as much of a public speaker outside of cable news and Sunday show appearances. He could have helped deflect from Hillary Clinton's argument that Trump is too inexperienced for the Oval Office. However, he was unlikely to shake up the race ahead of the GOP convention in Cleveland later this month.
The junior senator got a chance to audition for the vice presidential job at a Trump rally in North Carolina this week where he gushed about the brash businessman.
“The reason you love him so much is because he loves you,” Corker said in Raleigh. “He loves you, and he wants the best for you.”
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a rising GOP star and another possible running mate who met with Trump earlier this week, also indicated Wednesday that she is not interested in the position.
"I made that very clear to him that I’m focused on Iowa. I feel that I have a lot more to do in the United States Senate. And Iowa is where my heart is,” Ernst told Politico.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.