Corker, Ernst Withdraw From Trump’s Veep Consideration
Two potential Donald Trump running mates in the Senate have taken themselves out of contention.
First up, Tennessee Senator Bob Corker said he’d prefer to focus on policy from the Senate:
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee who has recently emerged as a finalist in the search for Donald Trump’s running mate, told The Washington Post in an interview Wednesday that he has taken himself out of consideration for the position.
Corker said that he informed the presumptive Republican presidential nominee of his decision during their day together on Tuesday, when the senator had a series of meetings with campaign officials in New York and then flew with Trump to an evening rally in North Carolina.
“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 said in an extensive phone interview where he repeatedly praised Trump and said he is eager to serve as an informal adviser to the candidate in the coming months.
As they sat close together on Trump’s Boeing 757, Corker recalled telling Trump about how he’s more policy-oriented than political and how even though he has become friendly with Trump, he did not feel comfortable stepping fully into the role of political attack dog or rousing speechmaker.
“It’s a highly political job, and that’s not who I am,” Corker said. “We had a very open conversation about that, and actually, we have been very candid about it from the very beginning of our meetings. I left there feeling very good about him as a person but also realized that at age 63, I know the things I’m good at doing. And knowing what a candidate for vice president has to do, it’s just not the right thing for me, and I don’t think it’s the right thing for them.”
Over the past month, Corker has been under serious consideration by Trump and had submitted personal documents to lawyer A.B. Culvahouse Jr., who is managing the vetting process.
Then Iowa Senator Joni Ernst effectively took herself out of contention as well:
Joni Ernst all but removed herself from Donald Trump’s vice presidential search, telling POLITICO in an interview that she wants to help Trump become president but that she’s focused on Iowa and the Senate, where the freshman senator said she’s “just getting started.”
The GOP senator met with Trump on Monday and received effusive praise afterward, with Trump predicting he will “see her again.” But it likely won’t be as his running mate.
“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 said Wednesday. “I’m just getting started here. I have a great partner with Chuck Grassley, we’ve been able to accomplish a lot. And I think that President Trump will need some great assistance in the United States Senate and I can provide that.”
The 46-year-old Ernst, who won the critical swing state race in 2014, said she will be offering tactical advice to Trump about how to win her home state. And she is expected to give a prime-time speech at the Republican National Convention, focusing on national security, according to a source familiar with those plans.
“I will probably participate more as an advocate,” Ernst said of her role in the Trump campaign. “I would love to assist him out on the trail.”
It’s not at all clear that either Corker or Ernst were very high on Trump’s list, so it’s not clear that this really has much of an impact on the process at this point. Nonetheless, as it stands now, it would appear that the Republican short list is down to Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, and Mike Pence. We should find out who Trump has selected next week.