Weekly Obsession: Is Bob Corker polishing credentials for a bigger job?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 9:05pm

Bob Corker’s re-election came as no surprise.

Tennessee’s junior senator romped to a win over disavowed Democratic embarrassment Mark Clayton after doing virtually no campaigning and running just a bare minimum of ads.

No longer a newbie — he was the lone freshman Republican elected in 2006, making Corker more or less the Senate’s lowest-ranking member — Corker is taking an ever-larger and more public role.

Among his first committee assignments six years ago was a spot on the Banking Committee, once considered an afterthought. But Corker jumped in with both feet and became an important figure during the collapses of 2008. He earned a reputation as a knowledgeable and thoughtful voice on banking policy, and his national profile grew.

In a Congress known for its intransigence, Corker became something of a bridge builder, willing to work with Democrats from time to time.

And now, it looks like Corker’s star will rise even higher.

In the weeks before the election he was profiled a handful of times as the Republicans’ emerging foreign policy leader.

He — often quietly — traveled to international hotspots. One count said he visited 48 countries in two years. Considered a moderate on foreign policy, he’s reached out to hawkish Republicans, neoconservatives and realpolitik advocates, assuring them that if he gets the gig as the GOP’s ranking member on the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, he’ll listen to everyone.

For a fairly wonkish moderate who has been more interested in the nuts-and-bolts of fiscal policy than the dance-and-thrust of foreign policy, the ascendancy seems out of character.

Unless, of course, he wants public validation of his foreign policy chops because he has even higher aspirations.

Corker makes no bones about his initial discomfort with being a legislator. A businessman who became mayor of Chattanooga, Corker is far more at ease in an executive role where he can direct the action. The horse-trading, logrolling and back-scratching necessary to move the needle in the Senate are not among Corker’s favorite activities.

After Mitt Romney’s defeat, the Republican Party is a vacuum, and the sprint to fill it before 2016 will start soon. Vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan is sure to eye a run at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., as are the dozens of Republican governors — Chris Christie of New Jersey and Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, for example. And have no doubt, the Senate is chockablock with big egos who will want to make their case for the presidency.

So Corker needs to stand out. If he adds foreign policy to his résumé, he can check another box on the presidential qualification quiz.

The punditry has already declared that the GOP needs to find a new path before 2016, lest Democrats use demographic advantage to control the White House for years to come. If the party is uneasy with a big change, Corker could represent an incremental one. He’s at ease as a moderate, and despite representing a very conservative state, he hasn’t yet been dragged to the hard right. His name was briefly mentioned as a darkhorse pick for Romney’s running mate, so his name is already known beyond Tennessee.

He’s either pushing or being pushed as his party’s leader on foreign policy — and have no doubt there’s a reason.

We may be witnessing the grooming of a candidate.

Filed under: City News

7 Comments on this post:

By: Rasputin72 on 11/14/12 at 12:50

The 47% and the people making less than 60,000 dollars a year will biry Corker under an avalance of votes.

In order for a Republican to win they need a candidate who runs on a platform of free health care and the bill should be paid for by every family and citizen who has three cars two or more houses and children enrolled in private schools. Anyone with a net worth
of 8 milion dollars or more will have a sir charge tacked on to his or her tax bill.

By: Sinatra on 11/14/12 at 11:05

R72 - I doubt those are just typos in your post.

By: Rasputin72 on 11/14/12 at 12:27

Sinatra......You are wrong. The typos are the result of a person from another generation long since dead trying to type on a cellphone.

By: pswindle on 11/14/12 at 8:13

OH, no, no not Corker. He knows why I feel this way.

By: Bellecat on 11/15/12 at 12:55

I would rather vote for my dog.

By: govskeptic on 11/15/12 at 2:04

He seems more sensible on most matters than most of the members of either
party at this point in time. A little disappointed at the gushing he made over
several top Officers of the Big Banks that appeared before his committee, but
did ask several very pertinent questions. At least he is younger and provides
better comments to the press than most of the tired old lions of the party.

Certainly beats our Senior Senator who appears to be closer to Bird Watching
than handling complex and difficult matters presenting themselves right now.

By: st8of10ec on 11/16/12 at 9:16

As Republican's go Corker's actually a lot more middle of the road than most,which would seem to indicate to me that he uses his head more than others on the extreme fringes of the political spectrum.Actually he's indicative of what this country really needs ,people from both party's who will use common sense on individual issues & quit groveling to the extremists on both the left & right.