WaPo: Of all relationships with Trump, ‘nothing has the torque of Corker’s Corkscrew’

Excerpts from a Washington Post story, datelined Chattanooga, providing a lengthy and thorough review of U.S. Sen. Bob Corker’s relationship with President Donald Trump, written by a reported who traveled  through Tennessee with the retiring senator:

It took Bob Corker 21 seconds to begin answering the question.

If the election were held today, would you vote for Donald Trump?

The retiring Republican senator from Tennessee sat silently in a coffee shop that doubled as a church. His gray-blue eyes flicked from his plate of over-hard eggs toward a mural featuring two angels — one wielding a sword and the other clutching a dove — hanging above the pulpit. He fiddled with his tie, steepled his hands, grimaced, and glanced down at his phone.

“If the election were held today between the same two candidates,” he offered, “I would.”

He reconsidered.

“Why don’t you say, ‘probably,’ ” he said, running his hand through a tuft of white hair and bouncing a shiny black shoe under the table. “Between the same two candidates, ‘probably.’ ”

Corker’s mixed feelings may come as a surprise to people who know him only from his public feuding with the president. Just six months ago, Corker was in his sprawling brick Chattanooga home, changing after a vigorous hot yoga class with his wife, when he saw Trump had conjured an angry tweetstorm in his direction.

…Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney gave a speech calling candidate Trump a “fraud,” and later munched on frog legs with the president-elect in an effort to become secretary of state. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) once called Trump a “kook,” only to become his golfing buddy. Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) thought Trump was a “con artist” but endorsed him anyway, and even a retiring House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), once a semi-vocal critic, now says he and Trump have “developed a good friendship.”

Some Republicans have grown to like the president, while others see him as a sputtering but steerable vehicle for their legislative agenda. There are those who feel it’s their patriotic duty to buddy up with him, afraid of who else might have his ear. And there are those just trying to hold onto their Trump-supporting voters ahead of the November elections.

Still, of all the roller coaster relationships with Trump, nothing has the torque of Corker’s Corkscrew.

…After leaving the coffee shop, Corker continued to mull his hypothetical vote.

“I really want to think about that last answer,” Corker said climbing into an SUV on his way to an event with the local chamber of commerce. “I think it’s an unfair question for a reporter to ask. . . . That might be my answer.”

…”I’m still thinking about that answer,” Corker said, unprompted, as he arrived at the campus of Covenant College, just over the Georgia border. “You’re going to give me a break, I know.”

Three hours had passed since he’d been asked in the coffee shop about whether he’d still vote for Trump, and he had come to a chapel at this Christian college to speak to a group of students about whatever they pleased. They asked about Trump.

…“Before you print, can we talk about it?” Corker asked leaving Covenant College, his last stop of the week-long tour. “I want to think about it. Because it’s actually a serious question. I wish I had said I don’t respond to conjecture, but now you’ve got me stuck.”

Four days later, Corker called with his final answer.

“I just don’t have any desire to make news,” he said. “So I’ll leave it at that.”

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