Read Excerpts From Senator Bob Corker’s Interview With The Times
MARTIN: Yeah I hear you, I hear you.
CORKER: So have at it. I understand we’re on the record. I don’t like normally talking to you on the record — I’m kidding you — but I will.
MARTIN: So now that you’re a liberated free man who’s become like an instant Twitter sensation, I figured that it was now your obligation to step out of the shadows here and talk on the record. But in all seriousness, it wasn’t just the tweet. I mean, I heard you in the Capitol this week say what you did twice about Secretary Tillerson, first upstairs then downstairs when the cameras were running which of course is what prompted all of this. I also know for a fact that you purposefully said what you did during the recess back in August about the president after Charlottesville —
MARTIN: Which is all to say this is not an accident for you. This is not some off-the-cuff sort of gaffe. You very much know what you’re doing. So let me ask you this: Are you concerned for where the country is at right now, given who’s in the Oval Office? I mean, if you add up your comments it seems to be like that you’re trying to sound some kind of an alarm here.
CORKER: So, let me go back and then —
CORKER: You know, Jonathan, I have been, felt liberated the entire time I have been in the Senate, okay. You know, so I’m not — The only thing that would have — it’s not as if because I’m not running that all of a sudden I’m liberated. I’ve said all of these things about, you know they were in a downward spiral, you know, lacked some of the stability necessary to be successful and competent. I mean all of those things were before I was not running.
MARTIN: I know, I know, I know.
CORKER: So but, what I am saying. But obviously, what happens, the thing that is different, if I’m running in a Republican primary, you know obviously you end up being constrained. But, I just, if you could, I’m not asking any different than I have the entire 10 years and eight months that I have been in office. You know, and one of the reasons, the main reason was the statement that I made. You know, I told people, I didn’t intend to serve more than two terms, that’s been a really big drag on me.
But in addition to that, the other part of our statement was true that the next 15 months we believe to be the most important time of our service and to be constrained by looking over your shoulder with some winger running against you, you know, let’s face it that impedes your ability to serve. So I just — again, I haven’t like changed course I just don’t have the worry.
I actually can continue over the next 15 months being the same senator that I’ve been. So, sure, I mean the president concerns me. I mean there’s no question. And, I like him. O.K., I enjoyed playing golf with him, you know, he’s a very courteous kind person. It’s not that I dislike him.